Clemson University to play major role in textile industry overhaul

Courtesy Clemson University


The U.S. textile industry is in the midst of a major overhaul and Clemson University is part of the team leading the massive effort.

Clemson University says its experts will focus on creating virtual reality training programs to help veterans integrate into the industry. It’s part of a $317 million plan to restructure the textile industry into more of a high-tech business.

Clemson released details on the plan Friday, which will be led by the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America.

The group is made up of various industry experts and universities from 28 states. From South Carolina, that includes the Clemson Unversity Center for Workforce Development, Milliken, Inman Mills and the SC Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

For Clemson’s part, researchers will use what’s called an Oculus Rift headset to create virtual reality simulations that can teach people skills they’ll need in a high-tech manufacturing plant. They say they will also create iBooks on fiber and textile manufacturing careers, including ones that target women and veterans.

“We have developed several cutting-edge virtual reality simulations that allow students to repeatedly practice tasks in a safe environment,” said Kapil Chalil Madathil, the center’s director of technology operations. “The simulations add a level of authenticity that helps students remember their lessons.”

Clemson leaders say the overall goal is to enable American companies to expand their reach of the global technical textiles market. Advanced Functional Fabrics of America estimates these efforts will lead to an increase of more than 50,000 jobs in a wide range of U.S. industries by 2025.

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