• An educational platform pilot launched by the AFFOA is designed to equip students with the new skill sets required to manufacture advanced functional fabrics.
  • The programme will integrate skills learned at AFFOA High Tech Fabric Discovery Center into an introductory-level curriculum that will be piloted at the Greater Lawrence Technical School (GLTS), Massachusetts.

The Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) is to pilot an educational platform for students in a bid to equip youngsters with the new skill sets required to manufacture advanced functional fabrics.

In partnership with the Greater Lawrence Technical School (GLTS), the MIT Edgerton Center and the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Studio Education Foundation, the AFFOA will expose students to a myriad of technical skills in the context of manufacturing advanced functional fabrics (AFF).

Over the past few decades, the US has lost many of its manufacturing capabilities in fibre and textiles. Recent breakthroughs in fibre materials and manufacturing processes have allowed design and production of advanced functional fabrics that see, hear, sense, communicate, store and convert energy, regulate temperature, monitor health and change colour.

These technologies are positioned to create high-value added products which can revitalise domestic textile manufacturing and generate high quality jobs, but manufacturing fabrics with advanced capabilities requires a workforce with a new combination of skill sets.

This is where the pilot project comes in.

"We are excited about the AFF educational collaboration, not only because it will help prepare students for innovative skill building opportunities and careers, but also because it is an important milestone for all of us in our mission to catalyse a domestic, manufacturing-based, revolution of the textile industry into a value-added, high-tech industry by transforming traditional fibres, yarns, and textiles into highly sophisticated devices," says AFFOA CEO, Yoel Fink.

The AFF curricula will integrate skills learned at AFFOA High Tech Fabric Discovery Center into an introductory-level curriculum that encompasses fibre, textile, and product design of advanced functional fabrics and will be piloted at GLTS.

The curricula will have two interwoven learning pathways that support the student's ability to build a multi-skilled and multi-faceted framework: machining, manufacturing aimed at students interested in AFF production and engineering design aimed at students interested in AFF design.

Together these pathways are expected to position students for multiple degree programmes and career opportunities in advanced manufacturing, functional fabrics and beyond.

In addition, AFFOA says the programme will help develop a model for scaling similar schemes throughout the Commonwealth, in other states and fabric discovery centres, as well as developing a standard for making program materials widely available.