From sensors, biofabrication and advanced materials to optics and photonics, there is no shortage of exciting new advancements coming out of the Manufacturing USA Institutes. As part of a pilot project to fully leverage the assets and resources of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National NetworkTM to aid small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) in the institutes’ technology focus areas, staff from 10 MEP Centers have been embedded in each of the 14 institutes.CMTC, California’s MEP Center, recently hosted the Embedded Staff Quarterly Summit for MEP Center staff embedded in the institutes. The event was held at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) at the University of California Irvine (UCI), with support from the MEP National Network. Calit2 is a Technology Demonstration Center for the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII), whose mission is to become the driving, sustainable engine that delivers real-time business improvements in U.S. manufacturing. Attendees included key leadership and embedded staff from the MEP National Network as well as UCI faculty, funding agency project managers and other invited guests. The summit provided a forum for collaboration on the transfer of institute developed technologies as well as knowledge and know-how to SMMs.
There is no question that rapidly advancing technologies such as additive manufacturing, advanced robotics and digital manufacturing have fundamentally changed how we think about design, fabrication and support in manufacturing. The challenge is to translate this new thinking into new approaches to engage SMMs in technology adoption that increase productivity and competitiveness. Participants at the summit saw new adoption approaches from each of the 14 institutes, through presentations, break-out sessions and real-world experiences from small manufacturers. Tours were also provided of the Calit2 facility where Smart Manufacturing concepts are being translated into practice, accelerating innovation and shortening the time to develop products and jobs.The knowledge gained from the Embedded Staff Quarterly Summit will help MEP Centers throughout the country improve and expedite their approaches to transfer technologies, knowledge and expertise to SMMs.
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