In MIT's Technology Review, Rob Atkinson reflected on President Obama's SOTU proposals for revitalizing manufacturing, including funding for a National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The President's proposed initiatives are a good start, but they could go further.
President Obama Calls for Creation of a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation in State of the Union Address
In his State of the Union address on February 12, 2013, President Obama called on Congress to support creation of a network of at least fifteen manufacturing innovation institutes that would bring together industry, universities, community colleges, federal agencies, and states to accelerate innovation by investing in industrially relevant manufacturing technologies with broad applications. The first institute in this network, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, launched in Youngstown, Ohio in August 2012 to pioneer additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies and tonight the President announced the launch of three more of these manufacturing hubs “where businesses will partner with the Departments of Defense and Energy to turn regions left behind by globalization into global centers of high-tech jobs.
The Atlantic's Manufacturing's Next Chapter
On February 7 in Washington, D.C.,The Atlantic will host a full-day program focused on all aspects of the manufacturing sector at The Newseum Knight Conference Center, Sixth Street Entrance, 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001.
ITIF president Rob Atkinson will present on a panel at 2:35 PM on the effects of technology on industry. Visit the cofnerence website.
Creating the Manufacturing University
As industrial production has moved overseas, the engineering, product development and technology innovation that are key components of manufacturing has gone with it. And it is getting worse. In an effort to address this potential catastrophe and restore American leadership in manufacturing, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program are proposing that the federal government support the designation of a core of approximately 20 leading “manufacturing universities.” This would include significant federal investment of $25 million per university and the creation of a network of industry-university partnerships that could provide the technical training and applied research necessary to transform American industries and assist us in better competing globally.
Cut to Invest: Support the Designation of 20 "U.S. Manufacturing Universities"
Congress should establish an initiative to designate 20 institutions of higher education as “U.S. Manufacturing Universities” as part of a needed push to strengthen the position of the United States in the increasingly innovation-driven global economy. In 1862, Congress passed the Morrill Act, which established land-grant colleges to promote learning in “agriculture and the mechanic arts.” These colleges played a key role in enabling the United States to later take the lead in the mechanization of agriculture and the industrialization of the economy. Today, the challenge is even greater as America competes against a wide array of nations seeking to win the race for global innovation advantage, especially in advanced manufacturing. A new cadre of federally-designated “Manufacturing Universities” that revamp their engineering programs with particular emphasis on work that is relevant to manufacturing firms while providing engineering students with real-world work experience should be part of the solution.