The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today that the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, will lead a consortium to identify new and emerging areas of advanced manufacturing that would benefit from shared public-private investment in research and development, education and training.
The consortium, called MForesight: the Alliance for Manufacturing Foresight, will help save government time and money by providing a channel for industrial, academic and other private-sector input on manufacturing priorities. Its work will also align advanced manufacturing research with national priorities and challenges to ensure efficient use of federal funding for the greatest possible return on investment.
The consortium award is one of several manufacturing-focused initiatives announced today by the White House in recognition of Manufacturing Day, an annual celebration of modern manufacturing meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers. The NIST Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership is a founding sponsor of Manufacturing Day, which, through factory open houses and other events, has introduced thousands of students, educators and job seekers to the many good career opportunities manufacturing has to offer.
"This consortium will provide a continuous channel to draw on the perspectives, knowledge and insights of not only industry but also academia," said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Willie E. May. "Having this access to private-sector viewpoints and studies on urgent questions related to manufacturing technology R&D will help us better coordinate and prioritize research and funding.
Recommended by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in its 2014 report, Accelerating U.S. Advanced Manufacturing, the consortium will study the needs, challenges and opportunities facing U.S. manufacturing, producing on-demand studies within an anticipated shorter-than-usual turnaround time. NIST and NSF announced a competition for the new consortium in April 2015.
"Engineering and scientific advancements based on fundamental research have been the main drivers of U.S. economic growth over the past half century," said NSF Director France Córdova. "Thanks to innovative technologies enabled by manufacturing research, production has grown at its fastest pace in more than a decade, creating significant economic value for the nation. To continue to reap these benefits, we must seek new research frontiers for manufacturing and pursue them for high-impact U.S. manufacturing innovation and economic competitiveness.
Herrick Professor of Engineering Sridhar Kota will lead the University of Michigan's work on the consortium, which has already partnered with 30 thought leaders from industry, non-governmental organizations and academia. The consortium will commission teams of national subject matter experts to provide technology roadmaps and reports on selected emerging technologies that outline projections for development, application and economic impacts. MForesight will also commission two working groups to report on best practices for technology maturation and commercialization, as well as for education and workforce development.
Federal users of the information will include NIST, NSF, other federal research and development agencies, the interagency Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office and the Advanced Manufacturing Subcommittee of the President's National Science and Technology Council. Agencies will have the opportunity to fund studies where they have particular needs.
For further information and to learn how to participate, visit www.mforesight.org. As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. To learn more about NIST, visit www.nist.gov.