Why America Has a Shortage of Skilled Workers

It has been at least 25 years since the alarm was sounded on skills shortages in manufacturing and the threat of retiring baby boomers. Just about everyone who follows manufacturing has known about this problem for a long time. So the question is: Why didn’t we invest in advanced skill training before it became a serious problem? The answer is money and the avoidance of training investment.

Why Solving Poverty through "Higher Education" Is a Mistake

These are jobs that can pay decently and that go begging. For example, according to Deloitte, there will be 2 million manufacturing jobs that go wanting over the next decade. The reason? Companies can’t find people with the skills needed to work in new high-tech factories and to run equipment. Then there are occupations like electricians, plumbers, and robotics technicians that don’t have enough workers because kids are taught to be interested in only a handful of more glamorous or socially-acceptable occupations.

Hey, Kid: Want to Build Cars When You Grow Up? Another Push for Manufacturing Skills

Honda is best known as a car maker, but it is also doing some interesting things to drive the American economy in the right direction, as we've been reporting lately. A case in point: Honda recently announced a new, $1 million investment in Ohio-based workforce development for an innovative program called EPIC, which will focus on creating more interest in manufacturing careers and bolstering education and training for the high-tech manufacturing jobs of the future.

Spiderlike Robots Could Build Giant Space Structures

Humanity could soon be building huge structures in space one piece at a time, the way spiders spin their webs here on Earth. A company called Tethers Unlimited is developing an in-space manufacturing system called "SpiderFab," which would use arachnidlike robots to put together large objects in orbit or beyond. SpiderFab could help build big radio antennas, spacecraft booms and solar arrays in the next decade or so, said Rob Hoyt, CEO and chief scientist of Tethers Unlimited.

Energy Department Offers Conditional Loan to Alcoa for Automotive Sector

“Alcoa’s innovative, high-strength aluminum solutions are leading the light weighting revolution now happening in the automotive industry,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Alcoa is pleased to be part of the government’s program to encourage a greater shift to aluminum intensive vehicles that are safer, lighter and more fuel-efficient.”

Can manufacturing regain a Renaissance lost?

Are happy days here again for American manufacturing? Optimists say yes: High global shipping costs, rising Chinese wages and a domestic shale gas boom are bringing appliance manufacturing back to Kentucky, creating automotive jobs in Tennessee and South Carolina, and leading an American competitive resurgence in a broad swath of industries. The reality is that manufacturing in America is still on a very shaky footing.

America’s innovation ecosystem may get bipartisan budget boost

Many pundits give President Obama’s budget proposal little chance of passing in the Republican-controlled Congress. In fact, the House and Senate budget blueprints have set the stage for a likely veto struggle. Dysfunctional, hyper-partisanship may continue to rule Washington, but at least one very important part of the budget is cause for hope: federal investments in science and technology innovation. There are encouraging signs that America’s innovation ecosystem will get a bipartisan boost this year.

Manufacturing Universities: The Next-Generation University-Industry Partnership

ITIF praises Senators Coons, Ayotte, and Gillibrand for introducing this important piece of legislation which will help transform university-industry relations, improve America’s innovation capacity, and ultimately spur significant economic and employment growth. A national system of manufacturing universities will incentivize institutions to focus more on the advanced manufacturing research and applications that are increasingly needed in the ‘New Economy.’ It will also produce graduates that are better equipped with the knowledge and skills needed for careers in emerging, innovation-based industries. - Dr. Robert Atkinson, President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)

3-D Printing Makes a Mark on Engineering Education

What's the best preparation for someone interested in entering this new field? Hull, who has a bachelor's degree in engineering physics from the University of Colorado, says that if he were starting off today in the field he created, he'd pay a lot more attention to organic chemistry and materials science. "A lot of the technology has to do with how you manipulate materials," he says. Hull also recommends becoming proficient at computer-aided design.

Bill in Congress would establish manufacturing universities

A bipartisan bill that would designate 25 manufacturing universities across the country and give each one $20 million over four years to step up advanced manufacturing in engineering programs was introduced Wednesday in Congress by lawmakers. The funds would be used to improve engineering programs, especially those related to manufacturing. With these grants, universities could support students with cooperative education and apprenticeships.

Irvine nonprofit using 3D printers as new math teaching tool

Teachers have known for a long time that many kids learn math best if they can play with blocks and other tools they can touch. Educators call these toys and tools "manipulatives," and while effective in teaching, they can also be expensive. Now developers at the MIND Research Institute, an educational nonprofit based in Irvine, Calif., are creating ways for teachers to produce the tools with less expense using three-dimensional printers.

Open-source algorithms to enable high-quality 3D printing of metal parts

The project intends to develop and demonstrate software algorithms that will allow selective laser melting (SLM) to produce metal parts that are high quality and durable. SLM is a metal powder-based, additive manufacturing process where a 3D part is produced, layer by layer, using a focused, high-energy laser beam to fuse the metal powder particles together.

Russian Rocket Ban Sparks Competition, Innovation in New Space

The ban not only reduces rocket revenue sent to the not-so-friendly-lately Russian government, but it also does something else. It creates an immediate need for a new era in American rocket engineering and manufacturing. More important than the geopolitical statement is the catalyst for American innovation.

Innovation Needs to be a Central Focus of the Federal Budget

As American manufacturing continues its slow recovery from the Great Recession, improved competitiveness and innovation need to remain strong federal priorities. It’s therefore heartening to note that the President’s FY 2016 budget request illustrates the administration’s belief in the power of public/private research partnerships to restore American industry’s competitive edge in advanced industries.

Obama's 2016 Budget Request For National Network For Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) Reaches Beyond $600 Million

The Obama administration is seeking a substantial increase in funding for the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), which has suddenly become a very large government-wide manufacturing program. In adding up the budget requests for NNMI centers that have been or will be created in 2016, the total amount for NNMI comes to $608 million. The large-scale "Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation" will be funded by the Departments of Defense, Energy, Commerce and Agriculture.


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