Auburn competes in inaugural SEC manufacturing competition

Published: Dec 12, 2022 11:05 AM

By Carla Nelson

Auburn University is part of four Southeastern Conference (SEC) schools that plan to make the SEC not just a competitive force in football, but in manufacturing as well. Auburn University’s Interdisciplinary Center of Advanced Manufacturing Systems (ICAMS) recently competed in the first-ever SEC Manufacturing Competition.

The competition also included Mississippi State University, Texas A&M University and the University of Tennessee and was held in Knoxville, Tenn., on Nov. 18. The event was the brainchild of University of Tennessee Professor of Mechanical Engineering Tony Schmitz, who was inspired to create a machining competition based on his experience playing college football.

“We know the SEC is big in athletics. We’re going to make the SEC big in manufacturing,” Schmitz said during the competition. “We anticipate that the students that compete today, and the students that we’ll touch through programs like this, will be reinvigorating manufacturing in the U.S. as they become the thought leaders and the company owners and the engineers that press us forward.”

The purpose of the competition was to bring SEC schools together to promote advanced manufacturing education and training, learn more about Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining, and demonstrate each team’s capabilities. For the 2022 event, the SEC logo was divided digitally into four sections and each university team machined that section from a 12″ x 12″ x 2″ 6061-T6 aluminum plate. The machined sections were then assembled with mating features to complete the SEC logo. Area middle school and high school students were also invited to learn more about manufacturing and watch the competition.

ICAMS trains and educates students and industry personnel in advanced manufacturing technologies, and Greg Harris, director of ICAMS and chair of the Auburn University Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, said the event is a great way to reach a broader audience for manufacturing.

“The SEC Manufacturing Competition is an exciting way to demonstrate the hard work and expertise the students and faculty from these SEC schools have in manufacturing,” Harris said. “This is just the beginning of what we plan to make an annual event. The ICAMS team did a fantastic job and we look forward to Auburn hosting the competition in the future.”

Along with the universities involved, the event was also a partnership between the Department of Defense Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) program, Project MFG, America’s Cutting Edge (ACE), the Southeastern Advanced Machine Tools Network, the ORNL Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, MSC Industrial Supply (cutting tools), ZEISS (part measurement), and Haas (CNC milling machines).

The winner of the event was selected based on time, cost and accuracy. The University of Tennessee took home the 2022 SEC Manufacturing Competition trophy.

“The event today is representative of what we need across this country,” said Adele Ratcliff, director of the DoD Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) program. “We are better when we join forces, we are unified, we are a strong chain together. We need to be able to recruit the next generation in, we need to be able to train them to higher standards, and we need industry to be involved in to send that demand signal and create that close relationship with these next-generation students. It takes a united front to do that, of all interested stakeholders in this space of manufacturing.”

Media Contact: Carla Nelson,, 3347400221

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