Stakeholders Applaud Obama's Advanced Manufacturing Speech

June 30, 2011
The segments of industry targeted in the speech were pleased with the direction Obama is headed.

President Obama's Advanced Manufacturing Partnership is receiving rave reviews among some members of industry, particularly those to whom the money pledged in the speech will go.

President Obama pledged $500 million to his Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Initiative during a 30-minute speech at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Engineering Center on Friday. AMP, as the program is called, will harness the power of public-private partnerships between universities, industry and governmental agencies in an effort to streamline innovation and bring products more quickly to market.

After a week to digest the president's speech and see what effect it would have on manufacturing technology the focus on advanced manufacturing made it inevitable that high-tech entities would benefit immediatly the segments of industry targeted in the speech were pleased with the direction Obama is headed.

Doug Woods, president of the Association For Manufacturing Technology, gave Obama credit for going down a path most presidents fear to go down.

"It's not every day that a president will single out a segment of the economy like industry for mention," Woods said. "He wasn't picking winners, but he did single out manufacturing as critical to the future of our economy. That's a big step, and he's to be commended for it."

Woods says he's particularly excited that $300 million of the President's $500 million pledge will go directly to advanced manufacturing initiatives that will help U.S. manufacturers of machine tools regain some of the market share they've lost in the past five years.

"He doesn't just want to regain what we've lost, but he wants to lead again," Woods says. "That's refreshing to hear a president talk like that."

"It was a fantastic day for the robotics industry," said Jeff Burnstein, president of the Robotics Industry Association. "In 30 years in this industry, in fact, I can't remember a better day."

The focus on robotics with the National Robotics Initiative (NRI), coupled with the fact that the President announced his plan at Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center in Pittsburgh, brought the importance of robotics in the manufacturing sector to a new height of awareness, Burnstein said.

"We'll have to wait and see if the rhetoric is followed up with the appropriate funds to help get advanced research from the laboratory to the shop floor," Burnstein said. "But Friday was a terrific start."

Jim Ryan, dean of the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering at the North Carolina A&T University/University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said joint development of new technology between government, academia and industry will help push the process along to get new technologies to market more quickly.

"Anytime you promote partnerships between academia and industry, it's a good day," Ryan said. "You can double the intellectual and financial heft of an investment when you have that kind of collaboration, so we're excited in the nanotechnology field to see how it works out."

Ryan added that he was glad to see President Obama speak in generalities rather than picking specific parts of industry and single them out for investment.

"It's good to make broad iniatives and leave the details for individual industries to work out," Ryan said. "You'll see some companies take advantage of these new partnerships and others will not. The ones that do will succeed."

Woods seconded Ryan's thoughts.

"It's hard to get technology out to market quickly without the collaboration between government, academia and industry," Woods said. "Alone, it's difficult, but together it works well."

Woods said the next step he'd like to see the President take is to coordinate the efforts of all of the subgroups he created in his speech under the hand of one person, whether that's Ron Bloom, the President's special advisor on manufacturing, or the Secretary of Commerce.

"You don't have to have everyone walking down the same path, but there should be a North Star strategy to guide their efforts," Woods said. "That's the one missing piece out of the plan that I saw, and I'd like to see him tighten that up moving forward."

See Also:

Obama Pledges $500 Million To Reinvent U.S. Manufacturing

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