The Accelerated Training in Defense Manufacturing (ATDM) program prepares adult learners for manufacturing careers that support the submarine and defense industrial base – the system of companies that produce parts and equipment for the U.S. military. Students from all around the United States with various career backgrounds are completing the four-month training, which is housed at and ley by the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR).

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The program currently offers five tracks:
  • Welding
  • Non–destructive testing (NDT)
  • Quality control inspection (metrology)
  • Additive manufacturing
  • CNC machining

To reduce barriers to entry, the costs of tuition and housing are covered for accepted participants. Dynamic support services, including help with job placement, ensure that students have a meaningful experience and can quickly contribute to our nation’s defense upon graduation.

Once the Navy’s National Training Center opens in 2025, 800-1,000 students will complete this program annually as each of the five tracks are offered across three shifts.


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The Need

The Submarine Industrial Base (SIB) and Defense Industrial Base (DIB) – the system of companies that produces parts and equipment for the U.S. military – are facing major worker shortages. That is especially true as the Navy aims to grow the fleet of submarines by constructing one Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine and two Virginia-class cruise missile submarines annually starting in just a few years.

To make that happen, 10,000 new workers need to enter the SIB every year for the next 10 years.

ATDM is a pilot program that increases the number of available skilled workers for the SIB and DIB by providing adult learners the foundational skills and certifications to immediately enter the workforce. The goal of the program is to establish a steady and sustainable flow of qualified workers for the naval shipbuilding and repair sector of the SIB.

Graduates complete the program with industry-recognized certifications and job opportunities. ATDM staff members work with students on resumes and interview skills and provide connections to companies that are hiring.

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82% Graduation Rate through First 10 Cohorts

75% of Graduates Work Directly in the SIB and DIB

Students Have Come from 36 States, Australia and Guam

The Model

No fluff. No filler.

Students get 1:1 time with the equipment and the instructional staff. Each class has 12 students paired with 12 pieces of equipment, one instructor and one technician.

The model is designed so that adults with no previous manufacturing experience can come to the IALR campus in Danville, Va, for a four-month, 600-hour program that prepares them to walk directly into a new career. Some have decades-long careers in other industries and want to start a new career; others are new to the workforce; and others are former military personnel desiring to continue serving their country.

Many students receive a job offer while they are still enrolled or shortly after graduation. Other students are sponsored by their current employer – meaning that these companies are utilizing ATDM to upskill their existing workforce or train new hires.

The curriculum is informed by what these learners will need to know when they enter the workforce. Industry input was crucial to the program development and in tweaks to the curriculum.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) launched the Naval Aviation School for Additive Manufacturing (NASAM)—a six-week program housed at and instructed by IALR that provides active-duty Navy and Marine Corps maintenance personnel with foundational skills in additive manufacturing—based on the success of the ATDM model. 


A prime example of what modern public-private partnerships should look like, ATDM is a consortium among strategic partners such as the U.S. Department of Defense, IALR (contracted program administrator and host), Danville Community College (curriculum partner), Phillips Corporation (technology partner) and the SPECTRUM Group (strategy partner).

The ATDM project is funded through the National Imperative for Industrial Skills initiative which was launched in 2020 by the Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment Program Office (IBAS) in the office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.

ATDM is also one of the strongest examples of what full integration of industry in the training process looks like. Key partners collaborate in the time-to-talent process and ensure the unique workforce requirements of shipbuilders and suppliers are fulfilled quickly to meet the critical demands of our nation’s defenses. 

ATDM is one of several training programs supported by the Manufacturing Advancement division of IALR.