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Manufacturing Academy

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Jump-start your career with the Manufacturing Academy

Manufacturing is strong and growing in the U.S. and promises ample career opportunities; experts predict more than 4 million new manufacturing employees will be needed by 2030. The industry currently employs over 12 million workers earning, on average, $96,000 a year (pay plus benefits), according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

The CNRE Manufacturing Academy helps students become career-ready to take on a position in this vital industry by introducing employment opportunities, as well as the advanced technology driving manufacturing growth. In this non-credit, extracurricular program, students will meet and engage with industry leaders in various manufacturing sectors both on and off campus. The highlight of the program is a week-long, all-expense-paid tour of some of Virginia’s advanced manufacturing technology companies.

What you’ll learn in the Manufacturing Academy

Students touring a custom hand-made ginetta supercar with no hood

Students participating in the CNRE Manufacturing Academy will have the chance to connect with industry leaders during on-site visits. You'll learn about career opportunities and gain an understanding and appreciation of modern manufacturing by hearing from guest speakers, networking with industry leaders, and attending a panel discussion. You’ll also get the chance to experience what you have been learning about in the classroom by visiting leading companies in several manufacturing sectors and seeing firsthand how they are utilizing advanced technologies in their fields.

Manufacturing sites in the commonwealth that students may visit include:

  • Spayside Cooperage (wood products)
  • Volvo (automotive)
  • Morgan Lumber Company (wood products)
  • TMI AutoTech, Inc. (automotive)
  • ProductWorks (custom manufacturing and product development)
  • WestRock Richmond Corrugated (packaging)
  • HardyWood Craft Ales (beverage)
  • Virginia Manufacturers Association (trade association)
  • Owens-Illinois (glass)
  • Graphics Packaging International (packaging)
  • Monoflo International (plastic manufacturing)
  • Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing  (research and development)

How to apply

To participate in the Manufacturing Academy, fill out and submit the application formby Friday, Nov. 3, 2023. Undergraduate and graduate students from all majors are welcome to participate; the main eligibility requirement is a desire to learn more about manufacturing. The deadline for applying to take part in the CNRE Manufacturing Academy is typically in early November.

Have questions? Email Professor Robert Bush at

We are grateful for your support of the Manufacturing Academy

The Manufacturing Academy has been generously funded by the WAY Foundation and its president, Steve Yelland, a longtime friend and supporter of the College of Natural Resources and Environment. 

We are also grateful for the manufacturing companies and organizations who make the Manufacturing Academy possible by sharing their time and expertise, as well as allowing Virginia Tech students and faculty to visit their production sites. If your organization would like to provide a speaker, make a gift to the program, or host a visit, contact Professor Robert Bush at to discuss opportunities.

If you are interested in learning more about other opportunities for partnering with the college or participating in the CNRE Career Fair and Packaging Career Expo, contact John Freeborn, director of employer relations, at