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Manufacturing Innovation Institutes

Manufacturing USA

President Obama has stated his intent to maintain the United States’ edge in innovation and expand American manufacturing. Manufacturing USA, what was previously known as the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) is a public-private initiative formally established in 2014, composed of innovative manufacturing institutes across the United States. Through Manufacturing USA, the U.S. industrial base will become a competitive force worldwide, and inspire investment in new manufacturing technologies.

To date, nine (9) institutes have been established, and more are underway, all working to create globally competitive products. This will be accomplished by speeding up the development process and using the most cutting-edge equipment and processes. The institutes will provide research and demonstration products, and activities such as developing innovative methodologies. For information about the first few announcements and awards, visit the White House blog.

Manufacturing USA and the Industrial Base

Opportunities available through Manufacturing USA will allow some companies to contribute to the manufacturing industry in ways they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford. Access to production tools will be provided to small companies and entrepreneurs. They will be able to bring new products to the market, and be engaged with the industry. Risk will be shared within the consortium of organizations for each institute. This team structure could make participation more feasible for small or medium-sized companies and universities.

Students at any level will be able to personalize their education by choosing an institute with a specialty they are interested in. The workforce will be developed and exposed to the manufacturing technologies used to create useful, competitive products. This is vital because no matter what innovation opportunities are available to the U.S. manufacturing industry, there will be no success without a workforce that is educated in the necessary manufacturing technology.
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Companies and schools throughout the United States have shown support for the initiative, and believe that it should be a priority investment. Many organizations have faith that this program will enhance the manufacturing industry in the U.S., which could help overall economic conditions improve. Responses to the original request for information (RFI) were positive, and included feedback, ideas, and enthusiasm. Dale Lombardo, senior engineer and technologist at General Electric, wrote: “For the long term growth of US companies like GE and for those that don’t have resources on our scale, the NNMI concept is a great idea. I believe the investment will have a significant and large multiplier effect on the US economy at all levels.” Lockheed Martin adds that they believe “the NNMI can be the catalyst to initiate the advanced manufacturing revolution”. Manufacturing companies of all types will benefit from these manufacturing institutes and the resources they provide. Whether a company is sending workers to be trained, hiring institute students, or joining a NNMI consortium, the manufacturing industry will be better for it. Click here to read the full RFI responses.

Thanks to Engility intern Melissa Linn for her summer research. Melissa is Virginia Tech class of 2015.