Volume 90 Issue 12 | p. 10 | News of The Week
Issue Date: March 19, 2012

Pushing Advanced Manufacturing

Government: President unveils details of new $1 billion initiative
Department: Government & Policy
Keywords: National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, President Obama, NIST, NSF, DOE, Commerce
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The President announced his manufacturing initiative at a Virginia factory run by Rolls-Royce, which participates in a local research center akin to that Obama proposes.
Credit: AP/Steve Helber
President Barack Obama speaks on the economy on March 9, 2012, as the Rolls Royce aircraft engine production plant in Prince George, VA.
 
The President announced his manufacturing initiative at a Virginia factory run by Rolls-Royce, which participates in a local research center akin to that Obama proposes.
Credit: AP/Steve Helber

A presidential proposal to create 15 Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation is drawing support from industry groups but criticism from some in Congress for its $1 billion price tag.

The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, which is part of the President’s 2013 budget request, aims to bring companies together with universities and community colleges, as well as federal, state, and local governments, to tackle important research challenges facing manufacturers.

“These are going to be institutes of manufacturing excellence where some of our most advanced engineering schools and our most innovative manufacturers collaborate on new ideas, new technology, new methods, new processes,” President Barack Obama said on March 9 when rolling out the initiative’s details.

The full network needs congressional approval, but a pilot project will start immediately with $45 million from the Departments of Defense, Commerce, and Energy, as well as NSF. DOD will run the pilot program.

Nonprofit research centers, with support from industry, can apply to host an Institute for Manufacturing Innovation focused on a specific research area, says Michael F. Molnar, chief manufacturing officer at NIST and the director of the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office.

For the full-scale program, the federal government proposes to put about $100 million into each project in the first year, with industry partners gradually taking over funding. Winning projects will be chosen through a competition.

“These centers could provide small and midsized companies with ideas, approaches, best practices that could be used to ask the question, ‘How could I move my business from just a U.S.-focused market to a global market?’ ” explains Fred Wentzel, executive vice president of the National Council for Advanced Manufacturing. A focus on small and midsized companies “is the only way to expand exports—the biggies are already doing it.”

But some in Congress are skeptical. “I have initial concerns about the program’s cost, as well as the potential for overlap and duplication with other federal initiatives,” says Rep. Benjamin Quayle (R-Ariz.), chair of the technology subpanel of the House of Representatives Science, Space & Technology Committee. He is also troubled that the Administration would launch the pilot project without congressional approval.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
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Comments
Jay Snow (Tue Mar 20 09:22:27 EDT 2012)
It's great to hear that more is going into education for our manufacturing students.

MTI Systems recently started a program to help colleges and other educational institutions utilize Costimator, cost estimating, quoting and process planning software as a training tool to be included as part of their manufacturing curriculum. While enabling instructors to focus on cost estimating topics, it also educates students on software used by manufacturers worldwide, effectively helping candidates be better qualified for hire upon graduation -- helping manufacturers be more competitive in their marketplace.

For more information visit: http://www.mtisystems.com/press_room/press_releases/press_dec_11.html
or on this government website: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/manufacturing/amp/mtisystems.html


--Jay Snow, Marketing Manager, MTI Systems, Inc. -- developer of Costimator, cost estimating, quoting and process planning software for manufacturers. http://www.mtisystems.com

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