U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Announces Bipartisan “Manufacturing Universities” Legislation

Troy, N.Y. — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced bipartisan legislation to help universities in New York and throughout the country strengthen their engineering programs to meet the demands of the modern manufacturing industry. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a national leader in advanced manufacturing education and research, has endorsed the legislation.

The Manufacturing Universities legislation authorizes the Department of Defense to support training at U.S. universities to help equip students with skills to compete in the 21st century manufacturing workforce. Universities would be selected through a competitive grant-based process and would tailor their educational curriculum to the needs of modern U.S. manufacturers. The provision passed the Senate as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and now heads to the President for signature.

The Manufacturing Universities legislation will give students many new opportunities and resources to pursue careers in manufacturing,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I fought to include this provision in the NDAA because in recent years, high-tech manufacturing companies have struggled to find qualified prospective employees to fill open positions. This provision will help our manufacturers overcome this challenge and takes important steps to give students the skills they need to compete in the 21st century manufacturing workforce.”

“On behalf of Rensselaer, we congratulate Senator Gillibrand on the passage of the Manufacturing Universities Act,” said Shekhar Garde, dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer. “Rensselaer is a national leader in advanced manufacturing education and research, with vibrant programs, advanced courses, and world-class facilities. Our outstanding faculty and a diverse student body – with over 1,000 women enrolled in our Rensselaer Engineering programs – are bringing fresh new ideas and approaches to modern manufacturing.”

Garde also noted that Rensselaer was named a regional hub in the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute sponsored by the Department of Energy. The Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the ninth manufacturing hub awarded by the Obama Administration, will focus on innovations such as smart sensors that can dramatically reduce energy expenses in advanced manufacturing, making our manufacturing sector strong today and positioning the United States to lead the manufacturing of tomorrow, helping to sustain the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing currently underway.

“The Manufacturing Universities Act will boost American competitiveness by partnering with leading universities like Rensselaer to enhance educational programming, foster partnerships with industry, and educate leaders in advanced manufacturing,” Garde said.

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress last week authorizes the Department of Defense to support industry-relevant, manufacturing-focused engineering training at U.S. universities. Universities and other participating organizations would be selected through a competitive grant-based process and required to better align their education programming with the needs of modern U.S. manufacturers, focusing engineering programs on development of industry-relevant advanced manufacturing skills, building new partnerships with manufacturing firms, growing hands-on training opportunities for students, and fostering manufacturing entrepreneurship. This provision is based on the bipartisan Manufacturing Universities Act championed by Senator Gillibrand.

The legislation was endorsed by the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the Precision Metalforming Association, the National Tooling & Machining Association, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Clemson University, University of South Carolina, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University, the University of Missouri System, the University of Illinois, the University of California, Davis, the University of California, Irvine, Boston University, the University of Rochester, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the State University of New York (SUNY) System, Kent State University, the University of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Connecticut, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Clarkson University, The Ohio State University, Dow, DuPont, and Siemens.

Rensselaer’s Role in Reinvigorating the Manufacturing Industry

In June 2011, the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the President’s Innovation and Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) released the Report to the President on Ensuring American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing. The report provided an overarching strategy and specific recommendations for revitalizing the nation’s leadership in advanced manufacturing.

Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson co-authored the report as PITAC co-chair. Under the umbrella of PCAST, PITAC advises the U.S. president on matters involving science, technology, and innovation policy. Jackson was appointed in 2009 to serve on PCAST and has been co-chair of PITAC since 2011.

To ensure that new technologies and design methodologies are developed in the United States and that technology-based enterprises have the infra­structure to flourish here, the report recommended the creation of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP). President Obama launched the AMP shortly after the report was released in 2011.

No stranger to the field of manufacturing, the School of Engineering at Rensselaer already has an established manufacturing network that offers students, faculty, and industry access to a variety of fabrication and production services and expertise. For example, the Manufacturing Innovation Learning Lab (MILL), which is helping to revitalize advanced manufacturing education at Rensselaer, will be used to bring smart manufacturing concepts to undergraduate and graduate education.

Last fall, the School of Engineering announced the launch of the newly created Manufacturing Certificate. The certificate is the first of its kind at Rensselaer focused on new process development and systems management in advanced manufacturing. The certificate includes a project-based lecture and laboratory curriculum for graduate students. Courses are taught by faculty members from the School of Engineering, a team of leading experts in advanced manufacturing, micromachining, high-speed machining, metals and ceramics processing, along with additive, composites, and digital manufacturing.

In October 2016, nearly 300 high school students from around New York’s Capital Region visited the campus to attend the fifth annual National Manufacturing Day program at Rensselaer. The event aims to inspire young people to pursue careers in technology and advanced manufacturing.

The School of Engineering manufacturing education and research efforts exemplify the vision of The New Polytechnic, an emerging paradigm for teaching, learning, and research at Rensselaer, the foundation of which is the recognition that global challenges and opportunities are so great they cannot be adequately addressed by even the most talented person working alone. Rensselaer serves as a crossroads for collaboration — working with partners across disciplines, sectors, and geographic regions — to address complex global challenges, using the most advanced tools and technologies, many of which are developed at Rensselaer. The New Polytechnic is transformative in the global impact of research, in its innovative pedagogy, and in the lives of students at Rensselaer.

Stories About Advanced Manufacturing at Rensselaer

Boosting American Competiveness in Advanced Manufacturing: Creating Future Leaders

Rensselaer Launches Newly Created Advanced Manufacturing Certificate Program http://bit.ly/1OjizdA

Rensselaer alumni magazine: Fall 2014 -The President’s View: “Manufacturing Leadership


Rensselaer alumni magazine story:Mastering Manufacturing in the MILL

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. For nearly 200 years, Rensselaer has been defining the scientific and technological advances of our world. Rensselaer faculty and alumni represent 84 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 17 members of the National Academy of Science, 25 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 8 members of the Institute of Medicine, 5 members of the National Academy of Inventors, and 4 members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, as well as a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With 7,000 students and nearly 100,000 living alumni, Rensselaer is addressing the global challenges facing the 21st century—to change lives, to advance society, and to change the world. For more information, please visit http://www.rpi.edu.