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“It looks like Tony Stark’s basement” – An Operation Next Success Story

Lightweight Materials

“I just thought this was the coolest place. It looks like Tony Stark’s basement, so I said, ‘Let’s do this!’”

That was New Jersey native turned Michigan resident Staff Sgt. Cameron Homburg’s reaction to his first visit to LIFT, the Detroit-based Department of Defense national manufacturing innovation institute, as he considered what his civilian career might look like as he retires after serving 20 years in the United States Marine Corps.

But after a tour of LIFT from Jihad Mims, manager of the institute’s Detroit Learning Lab, and learning about its Operation Next program, which provides free certification opportunities for active-duty service members who are retiring from the service, along with National Guard and Reserve and veterans, Homburg decided to take on learning CNC machining.

The problem was, after working in artillery in the Marines and the Fire Direction Center for 16 years, there wasn’t a direct correlation to a civilian job.

“It was kind of a shot in the dark,” said Homburg, who had studied welding in high school. “I love artillery and there is no artillery in the civilian world. There is one job in Colorado, which is avalanche control, it’s seasonal and it is almost on a volunteer basis.