VIDEO: Training the next generation of woodworkers
The MIll National Training Center

A national training center in Colorado is helping to bridge the skills gap for today’s manufacturers while educating the next generation of leaders in the woodworking industry.

The MiLL or the "Manufacturing Industry Learning Lab, is a state-of-the-art educational facility located in Colorado Springs, Colo. It was designed to create opportunities for high school and college-age students as well as military and industry professionals by providing them with advanced training and techniques in lean manufacturing. 

The training center, which is part of the Peyton School District, is a public-industry partnership that is supported by a network of industry partners including

In the video below, another industry partner, Stiles Machinery, takes an inside look at the training center and what it has to offer the next generation of workers.

“We start out with the basics,” said Chet Miller, instructor at the MiLL. “”We start out with identifying wood, learning how to use a tape measure and, then, as we progress through the program, we then start talking about learning how to design, we learn estimating, figuring out the material we need, we take the wood portion all the way from the mill to the finished material.”

Thomas Allot, Stiles University Manager at Stiles Machinery, said, “How I would define success over the next 5 to 10 years, between the partnership of Stiles Machinery and the Mill would be to continue to see the class sizes increase,” he said. “Right now, the Mill is hosting around 140 students a year. In five years I’d love to see that number at 300, and 400 and maybe even see other school districts start  to invest to in courses and structure like the Mill and the Peyton School District to continue to supply the industry with good, educated talent.”

A former student, Dakota Mile, has moved into the industry working as a countertop fabricator at a local millwork shop. “The mill helped me prepare for woodworking. It gave me the insight as to if this was what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to sit in an office behind a desk all day. I wanted to move around and use my hands. The creative outlet of it was definitely inspirational.”

For more information on The MiLL, visit


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About the author
Larry Adams | Editor

Larry Adams is a Chicago-based writer and editor who writes about how things get done. A former wire service and community newspaper reporter, Larry is an award-winning writer with more than three decades of experience. In addition to writing about woodworking, he has covered science, metrology, metalworking, industrial design, quality control, imaging, Swiss and micromanufacturing . He was previously a Tabbie Award winner for his coverage of nano-based coatings technology for the automotive industry. Larry volunteers for the historic preservation group, the Kalo Foundation/Ianelli Studios, and the science-based group, Chicago Council on Science and Technology (C2ST).