Skip to section navigation

Wounded veteran finds new way to serve by training for career in 3D printing

New training program prepares veterans, others to enter advanced manufacturing workforce

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aug. 4, 2014
FY14-56

Joseph GrabianowskiOAK RIDGE, Tenn.—While 26-year-old wounded veteran Joseph Grabianowski has inspired Americans with his harrowing war story, someday he may be nationally known for building highly efficient exhaust systems for cars and trucks using 3D printing technology. Grabianowski—pictured at the U.S.Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in front of a 3D printer holding a 3D-printed DOE seal and the plastic material from which it was made—is part of the Energy Department’s inaugural Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Advanced Manufacturing Internship. The pilot program is designed to provide accelerated, hands-on career training for veterans and next-generation engineers to prepare them to immediately enter the workforce of the growing advanced manufacturing industry.

Grabianowski stepped on an IED while deployed with his Army unit in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, in May 2012. Damage from the blast required a rare, radical amputation of his lower body. He had long dreamed of being a U.S. Marshal but knew his path would now lead in a new direction. In a December 2013 interview with USA Today, Grabianowski said, “I still love my country…even though I can’t go be a Marshal now, I can still go do something that would be a good service to my country.”

Barely two years later, his successful recovery is a testament to his personal will and determination. This self-proclaimed techie now envisions a career for himself in what he calls the “future of manufacturing,” which is additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. Through this pioneering program offered by the Energy Department’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, ORAU, Pellissippi State Community College and ORNL, Grabianowski is receiving the training needed to make his career goals a reality and prepare him to succeed in the additive manufacturing world.

“Where this industry is going to boom is right here in Oak Ridge,” said Grabianowski, “and the best engineers in the field are available through this program to teach me.”

The six-week program, which began in early July, includes a combination of classroom courses taught at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tenn., and hands-on laboratory activities at the DOE Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Participants learn to design for advanced manufacturing needs and are educated on 3D printers, fabrication techniques, and materials including titanium, carbon fiber, ABS plastics and other composites.

“The science behind additive manufacturing is fascinating, but it really comes down to the feeling of how great it would be to help people,” said Grabianowski. ”I see a future in this industry, and I can serve my country by learning the technology and software to build 3D-printed exhaust systems for cars and trucks that will save Americans millions in fuel costs someday.”

According to Robert Ivester, Ph.D., deputy director in the Energy Department’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, this program is the first step in building a better system for providing veterans with timely training opportunities that will give them a competitive advantage when returning to the workforce.

“There is a skills gap in advanced manufacturing,” said Ivester. “Programs like this will provide trained workers quickly to meet our national priorities including the resurgence of manufacturing in the United States and effectively leveraging the existing skill base of transitioning service members. This program is only the first step, and we are actively seeking partners for a broader effort moving forward.”

This first program will end with a job fair at ORAU’s Pollard Technology Conference Center in Oak Ridge on August 14 and a graduation ceremony held at Pellissippi State Community College on August 15.

“The response to the program was more than we had hoped,” said Dean Evasius, senior vice president of ORAU’s workforce development programs. “Within a few days of opening the program, we had applications from all over the United States.”

A diverse group was selected for the pilot program, including 15 Army, Navy or Marine veterans, three active duty personnel, two reservists, three FIRST Robotics students, and two undergraduate engineering students. “The job fair that ORAU is hosting will assist those participants who are ready to enter the advanced manufacturing workforce,” said Evasius.

The pilot program’s first participants are:

Advanced Manufacturing Internship Participants
Name City and State Affiliation
Coltan Benziger Westfield, New Jersey Active Duty, U.S. Army
Ponnareay Chay San Diego, California Veteran, U.S. Navy, and Undergraduate, San Diego State University
Justin Daniels Jamison, Pennsylvania Recent Graduate, University of Pittsburgh
Scott DeVore Knoxville, Tennessee Reserve, U.S. Navy
Thanh Duong Knoxville, Tennessee Veteran, U.S. Army, and Undergraduate, Pellissippi State Community College
Steven Fontaine Henderson, Nevada Veteran, U.S. Navy, and Undergraduate, University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Andrew Godwin Powell, Tennessee Veteran, U.S. Navy
Joseph Grabianowski Rockville, Maryland Veteran, U.S. Army
Michael Haines Knoxville, Tennessee Student, Farragut High School
Ryne Huff Corryton, Tennessee Veteran, U.S. Army, and Undergraduate, University of Tennessee
Clayton Leak Richmond, Virginia Reserve, U.S. Army, and Undergraduate, Virginia State University
Nicholas Leak* Cookeville, Tennessee Veteran, U.S. Army, and Undergraduate, Tennessee Technological University
Gary Marlow Raeford, North Carolina Veteran, U.S. Army, and Undergraduate, Fayetteville Technical Community College
Dermot Medine Thomas Fayetteville, North Carolina Active Duty, U.S. Army
Raymond Powell San Diego, California Veteran, U.S. Marines, and Undergraduate, San Diego State University
Danny Ross Oak Ridge, Tennessee Veteran, U.S. Army
Matthew Sallas Powell, Tennessee Veteran, U.S. Navy
Stacy Sharp Knoxville, Tennessee Veteran, U.S. Navy
Kathleen McKenna Snyder* Knoxville, Tennessee Student, Halls High School
Peter Tong Plant City, Florida Veteran, U.S. Army
Lewis Valdez San Diego, California Veteran, U.S. Marines, and Undergraduate, San Diego State University
Derek Vaughan Knoxville, Tennessee Student, Homelife Academy High School
Eric Vidal Maryville, Tennessee Veteran, U.S. Navy, and Undergraduate, Pellissippi State Community College
Shane Watson Cookeville, Tennessee Undergraduate, Tennessee Technological University
Patrick Wentzel Colorado Springs, Colorado Active Duty, U.S. Army
DOE Seal

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality. EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) partners with industry, small business, universities, and other stakeholders to identify and invest in emerging technologies with the potential to create high-quality domestic manufacturing jobs and enhance the global competitiveness of the United States. For more information on the Advanced Manufacturing Office in EERE, visit the Advanced Manufacturing Office website.

DOE Seal

Pellissippi State Community College is a member of Tennessee’s Community Colleges. Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. We offer associate’s degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs, and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. Learn more at www.tncommunitycolleges.org.

DOE Seal

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit http://www.ornl.gov/ and http://science.energy.gov/.

DOE Seal

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Media Contacts

Pam Bonee
Director, Communications
Work: 865.576.3146
Cell: 865.603.5142

Wendy West
Manager, Communications
Work: 865.576.0028
Cell: 865.207.7953

Nicole Merrifield
Communications Specialist, Communications
Work: 865.241.0482
Cell: 865.323.5762


Nicholas Leak

Veteran Nicholas Leak, pictured with a 3D printer at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL (click image for high resolution version), has a long-standing interest in the field of engineering. Leak began a mechanical engineering degree at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville in 2005. After two years of studying, Leak joined the Army, where he was a striker mechanic and practically every job he did while on active duty was mechanical. Leak served until 2013, when he decided to go back to school in engineering. He has been excited to expand his knowledge in this area by participating in the EERE Advanced Manufacturing Internship Program this year. “This program has given me the opportunity to explore an area of science and engineering of which I had limited prior knowledge,” said Leak. “I have been fascinated by how quickly technology has evolved. I didn’t realize you could 3D print so many materials like composites and titanium.” Because of this experience, Leak can envision himself in an advanced manufacturing career someday. “This has all been very exciting because I would eventually like to create prosthetics after I finish my degree,” said Leak. “I will have a lot more in my toolbox after this.”



McKenna Snyder

Halls High School Junior McKenna Snyder, pictured here at DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL with a 3D printer and various 3D-printed items (click image for high resolution version), is the captain of her school’s robotics team and a next-generation engineer. “I’ve been thinking about college and looking into engineering, international business and other scientific fields,” said Snyder. Snyder first became interested in the EERE Advanced Manufacturing Internship Program to grow her robotics knowledge and skills. Now that she’s involved in the program, she is finding it beneficial to explore the possibilities of higher education and a career path in this growing industry. “Advanced manufacturing is a quickly growing field, and I like being on top of that,” she said. “This will look great on my resume.” After her participation with this program, Snyder is hopeful about her future prospects in this area. “If the actual work is anything like this internship,” she said, “additive manufacturing would be a great career for me.”