Hoping to build on job growth in manufacturing, the Obama administration announced a series of executive actions to strengthen the sector, including a $300 million investment in three emerging technologies.

1024px-Manufacturing_equipment_091Advanced materials (including composites and bio-based materials), advanced sensors for manufacturing, and digital manufacturing were all identified in the final report of Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership as critical to maintaining U.S. industrial competitiveness.

“The executive actions announced today align with the report’s recommendations by making investments in emerging, cross-cutting manufacturing technologies, training our workforce with the skills for middle-class jobs in manufacturing, and equipping small manufacturers to adopt cutting-edge technologies,” the administration noted in a statement.

The White House said NASA and the departments of Defense, Energy and Agriculture will invest more than $300 million in the emerging technologies to help drive advances in the manufacturing of high-tech materials including “new steel alloys that are twice as strong and lighter than today” and new processes to eliminate reliance on foreign supplies of critical materials.

The government’s investment will be matched by private-sector efforts and resources, the administration said.

To further strengthen advanced manufacturing, the National Science Foundation will establish up to two manufacturing “centers of excellence” in basic research bringing together universities and industry with a focus on advanced sensors for manufacturing and digital manufacturing.

In the area of workforce training, the Department of Labor will launch a $100 million grant competition to encourage apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing. “Industry is already leading the way in exploring new models,” the White House said, citing programs at Dow, Alcoa, and Siemens.

The Department of Commerce, meanwhile, will pilot a competition for $130 million over five years across ten states to help small manufacturers adopt new technologies and bring new products to market.

The administration noted that since February 2010, U.S. manufacturing has added more than 700,000 jobs, the fastest pace of job growth since the 1990s.

Source: Reuters Obama plans executive actions to strengthen U.S. manufacturing

Image: Wikimedia Commons, Mixabest, CC BY-SA 3.0

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