FLATE Focus August, 2015
From the White House communications on the www.manufacturing.gov website, the goal of the 40 plus manufacturing institutes to be created over the next ten years is to enable U.S. industry and academia to solve the “scale-up” challenges that are relevant to industry. This National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) is and will be working to create competitive, effective, and sustainable ‘manufacturing research-to-manufacturing infrastructure’ quickly moving research to plant floors as innovative products and production processes.
To date, six Manufacturing Innovation Institutes have been awarded with several more in the pipeline to be announced and funded in the near future. The specific technology foci of the current institutes are defined in the table below. The most recently funded institute will be housed in Rochester, NY, and led by the Research Foundation for the State University of New York and is focused on photonics.
At the recent HI-TEC conference (www.highimpact-tec.org) in Portland Oregon, FLATE assembled a panel with representatives and information from some of the NNMI institutes to share their overall missions and goals. One of the key intent of this HI-TEC session was to bring the NNMI mission to the attention of ATE centers so members of the NSF ATE community could start thinking about how to participate in their workforce development strategies. Dennis Thompson from the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), University of Illinois Lab in Chicago, IL, and Major General Nick Justice from the Power America Innovation Institute (located at North Caroline State University in Raleigh, NC) gave overviews of their specific missions and goals including their workforce foci. There were many questions and lively discussions with the HI-TEC audience who were particularly interested in the institutes’ plans for workforce development and the visions that these two had for the future innovations of their focus technologies. The current and planned manufacturing innovation institutes are required to have workforce plans in their portfolios and NSF ATE centers and projects were recommended as potential partners for this aspect of the institutes.