U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have introduced bipartisan legislation to help schools strengthen their engineering programs to meet the growing demands of 21st century manufacturing. The bill would designate 25 universities as ‘Manufacturing Universities’ and provide incentives to better align educational offerings with the needs of modern manufacturers. The incentives would be used to revamp universities’ engineering programs to focus on manufacturing engineering and curricula specifically related to targeted industries.
“It’s critical that our schools and universities equip students for success in manufacturing and contribute to the research and development that drives advanced manufacturing,” said Senator Coons. “Although our economy has created over half a million manufacturing jobs over the last three years, hundreds of thousands remain unfilled because we don’t have enough trained workers. We need our engineers to fill the growing demand for manufacturing workers and accelerate manufacturing’s growth. This bipartisan bill would help us meet that challenge. By helping schools focus their engineering programs on advanced manufacturing skills, we can equip our next generation of engineers with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century.”
“This is an incredibly important issue for our states’ institutions of higher education and manufacturing industries,” said Senator Graham. “I look forward to working with Senator Coons to explore additional innovative ways to create opportunities for our manufacturing sector to thrive.”
The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2014 would establish a program within the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) charged with designating 25 schools as ‘Manufacturing Universities.’ Designated schools would receive $5 million per year for four years to meet specific goals, including focusing engineering programs on manufacturing, building new partnerships with manufacturing firms, growing training opportunities, and fostering manufacturing entrepreneurship. The program would be run by the Director of the NIST, in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense and Energy, and the Director of the National Science Foundation, among others.
“APLU applauds Senator Coons and Senator Graham for their leadership on manufacturing issues and for recognizing the potential of our nation’s public research universities in contributing to the American manufacturing renaissance they envision,” said Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) president Peter McPherson. “We strongly support this initiative as it helps pave the way for the advancement of high tech manufacturing efforts across the country."
“The Dow Chemical Company supports S.2719, The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2014, sponsored by Senator Coons and Senator Graham,” said Rob Vallentine, director for STEM Education at Dow Chemical Co. “The bill is consistent with Dow’s ongoing efforts to support and enhance manufacturing engineering programs at U.S. universities. We welcome the voices of Senator Coons and Senator Graham on this very important issue, and value their commitment to helping meet the workforce needs of American manufacturers.”
This bipartisan legislation has been endorsed by the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Clemson University, the University of Illinois, the University of Missouri, the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University, DOW Chemical, and DuPont.