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Briefing for National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) "The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation"

Thank you, Brian, and thank you, Jay, for inviting me to come and speak to you today about the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. 

And thank you to the National Association of Manufacturers as a whole, for serving such a vital role representing small, medium, and large manufacturers from every industry sector in our nation.

Events such as today's are critically important to the formation of sound public policy affecting the U.S. manufacturing community.  

Additionally, special thanks are due to Congressman Tom Reed, a principal sponsor of the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act, which authorized the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. Your leadership has made NNMI possible. 

And of course, a special thank you to our other speakers—Steve Betza of Lockheed Martin and Mike Russo of Global Foundries. The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation came about through a partnership among government, industry, and academia. Steve and Mike—and their respective organizations—have been significant contributors to this partnership. 

Before I go much further, I'd like tell you a little bit about NIST—and our long-term role and responsibilities for supporting U.S. manufacturing. 

At NIST, our mission is to support U.S. innovation through measurements, standards, and technology. 

Manufacturing was a major priority when we were formed as the National Bureau of Standards in 1901. We also had the responsibility for providing our national standards for measurement. And we are, and will continue to be, the best in the world in that arena (e.g., next generation atomic clock with accuracy to 1 second in 15 billion years).  

And now in the 21st Century, manufacturing remains a major priority for us. But the measurement science, standards, applied research, and workforce training needs are very different. 

The NIST Laboratory Programs perform basic research in measurement science and provide measurement standards that are recognized worldwide. The research done at NIST provides the technical underpinnings for the development of documentary standards—a process which, in the U.S., is led by the private sector. Research conducted in the NIST labs has led to five Nobel Prizes, a Kyoto Prize in Materials Science, and two National Medals of Science over the past 20 years.   

Our Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia program is a new effort to bring together industry-led consortia to determine manufacturing technology priorities. 

And for more than 25 years, the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership has been helping small and medium sized manufacturers in every state and Puerto Rico to innovate, grow, and compete. 

But this is not enough. 

The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation is a critically needed component as well. It provides the applied research and workforce training needed to support the scale-up of inventions to production. 

Secretary Pritzker is a tireless champion and supporter of U.S. manufacturing. 

Why do we need these individual institutes and a network of them? Because so many groundbreaking inventions that started here in the U.S. are now made elsewhere—the flat panel screen television, the lithium ion battery, industrial robots. We want to keep our inventions and the products and profits that come from them here in the U.S. Doing so will take real effort and collaboration. 

For the past 15 years, other countries have been increasing their investments in advanced manufacturing. So far, we've spent $630 million to stand up nine research and development institutes for manufacturing in the United States as part of the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. But we know that other countries are spending far more. In the words of Professor Steve Schmid, who did the landmark research study, which showed that differential, "The numbers are astounding." 

NNMI can help us to address this imbalance. While other nations are investing more to support advanced manufacturing, we feel that our partnership between industry, academia, and state and local government (the secret sauce used for each institute) can win the day. 

Specifically, we feel that strategically selected applied research, plus education and workforce skills training, and the development of future manufacturing hubs and innovation ecosystems, will have an enormous multiplier effect. 

So far, the results are encouraging. Each of the four existing institutes (or Center of Excellence for 21st Century Manufacturing) has its own unique focus. 

DMDII in Chicago is focused on developing interoperable standards for manufacturing processes. America Makes in Youngstown, Ohio, is focused on 3D printing. LIFT in Detroit, Michigan, is the Lightweight & Modern Metals institute. Power America in Raleigh, North Carolina, is the Power Electronics Manufacturing Institute. They create wide bandgap semiconductors, which allow our power electronic components to be smaller, faster, more reliable, and more efficient. In each of these institutes, we have seen impressive investment from industry and academia, and we believe that will be true with future institutes as they are stood up. 

The President's plan is to have 15 institutes identified by the end of this administration. By the end of 2025, there should be 45 centers up and running. 

At NIST, we are working with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Economic Council, and our counterparts in the Departments of Defense, Energy, Agriculture, and the National Science Foundation to establish a workable structure for the network that allows for maximum flexibility and maximum financial return on taxpayer's investment. 

We are also charged with standing up two institutes on our own by the end of 2016. The President's FY16 budget request includes $150 million dollars for this activity. Presently, the FY16 House and Senate draft budgets do not provide the support to expand beyond the current group of nine institutes. We will continue moving forward with existing resources and hope for a better budgetary outcome when the FY16 budget is finalized. 

In addition to filling the gap between innovation and large-scale production, we foresee the network helping to fill the gap between the number of available jobs and the number of workers with the right skills. 

Historically, this has been a nation of crafters—of makers—but recently, we simply have not been encouraging our young people to train for today's well-paying manufacturing jobs and those that will be even more prevalent in the future. By some estimates, in 2025, there will be 3.5 million available jobs in advanced manufacturing, but 57 percent of them will be unfilled. So, no response to the challenges facing manufacturing can be complete without including our young people in the solution. 

A strong workforce cannot be what we are calling "digital-mechanical illiterate." That is, they need more than mechanical skills, they must have the computer skills to operate the 3D printers and other advanced machinery in modern factories. Modern manufacturing jobs require new, specialized expertise and continuous learning, but they also provide exciting careers with higher salaries, do not require a four-year degree, and as in the past, can enable the U.S. to produce the things we invent and keep more of the jobs and profits here in the U.S. 

Fortunately, these jobs require neither an engineering degree nor a Ph.D. in physics. Future manufacturing workers can gain their digital-mechanical literacy skills in high school, community college, or other training programs. 

The jobs are out there, but we need to train our workers to fill them. And these institutes are partnering with local high schools and community colleges to provide those programs and develop the curricula that will give future workers the right skills. 

With each new institute, there will be more opportunities for NAM and individual manufacturers to increase their efforts in workforce development and training. 

As I leave you today, I want to tell you two things. 

That the work you are doing is profound and extremely meaningful for our country, and that we are "from the government and we really are here to help." 

We want to work with you as individual manufacturers and as industry associations to support U.S. advanced manufacturing now and into the future. We will do all we can to make our nation strong through a networked series of manufacturing centers of excellence. 

In the words of Mike Molnar, whose enthusiasm we all know: "We will fight—with all of our might" to start the cycle of recovery for manufacturing, and in turn, jumpstart the future of America's competitive advantage... and 

We will turn the infamous technology "Valley of Death" into a fertile land of opportunity for U.S. manufacturers and lay a path for today's youth to be gainfully employed in making a brighter future for our nation. 

Thank you for your attention.


Created June 24, 2015, Updated October 3, 2016