Industry Market Trends
Initiative Spotlight Series: U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Institutes
June 17, 2013
As part of a new IMT Career Journal series highlighting specific initiatives aimed at helping U.S. manufacturers and workers create good jobs, we look at the Obama administration's recent launch of a competitive process to create three new manufacturing innovation institutes. These geographically dispersed institutes will leverage the particular strengths of their region and bring together businesses, institutions of higher learning, and government agencies to address a variety of critical needs to U.S. global leadership in manufacturing. U.S. manufacturing competitiveness faces numerous challenges, among them being the gap between R&D activities and commercial deployment of technological innovations. Technology is constantly evolving, meaning American businesses, industries, and local economies must adapt to keep up if they are to remain competitive and boost the nation's competitiveness. It is this multifaceted challenge that drove the Obama administration last month to launch competitions to create three new advanced manufacturing innovation institutes with a commitment of $200 million from five federal agencies. In partnership with the Department of Commerce, NASA, and the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) will lead two of the institutes, while the Department of Energy (DOE) will lead the third institute:
- Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation, led by the DOD, will develop novel, modeling-based design methodologies, virtual manufacturing tools, and sensor- and robotics-based manufacturing networks to accelerate innovation in digital manufacturing;
- Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing, also led by the DOD, will attempt to spur reductions in manufacturing and energy costs for products such as wind turbines, medical devices, engines, and vehicles by scaling up research in advanced lightweight metals;
- Next-Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing, led by the DOE, will employ wide-band-gap semiconductor technology to develop compact, high-efficiency power sources for electric vehicles, renewable power interconnection, industrial-scale variable speed drive motors, and more.