Establishing a National Manufacturing Foundation
Author: Sridhar Kota and Tom Mahoney
Emerging technologies developed in the United States are routinely scaled up overseas due to a lack of domestic engineering skills, manufacturing know-how, investment capital, and supply chains. A new national initiative is needed to ensure that discoveries and inventions made in the United States are manufactured at scale in the United States. Such an initiative will create good-paying jobs, strengthen defense preparedness, and protect intellectual property (IP) created through federally funded research. Building a strong manufacturing base at home will also strengthen the domestic innovation cycle, as the knowledge gained through manufacturing supports process improvements and new product iterations. We propose the creation of a new agency—a National Manufacturing Foundation (NMF)—to address this gap.
About the Authors
Sridhar Kota is the Herrick Professor of Engineering, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. He is the founding Executive Director of MForesight: Alliance for Manufacturing Foresight – a federally-funded technology think-and-do tank focused on enhancing U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. Between 2009-2012 Prof. Kota served as the Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). He played an instrumental role in conceptualizing and championing the establishment of the national manufacturing innovation institutes. He also orchestrated implementation of the National Robotics Initiative, and the National Digital Engineering and Manufacturing Initiative. Dr. Kota has authored over 200 technical papers, and has 30 patents on mechanical and bio-inspired engineering systems. He is the recipient of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Machine Design Award, Leonardo da Vinci Award, the Outstanding Educator Award and the University of Michigan Distinguished University Innovator Award. He is the founder and CEO of FlexSys Inc. which developed and flight tested the world’s first modern aircraft with shape-changing wings to improve fuel efficiency and noise reduction.
Tom Mahoney is Associate Director of MForesight where he researches and writes about critical policy and technology issues affecting long-term U.S. manufacturing competitiveness drawing on extensive experience in manufacturing management, policy, and entrepreneurship. At MForesight, Tom has written major reports on strengthening manufacturing supply chains, cybersecurity, Industry 4.0, and national policy initiatives to restore U.S. leadership in innovation. Prior to joining MForesight, Tom was CEO and co-founder of a technology startup perfecting a microwave plasma ignition and sensor system for internal combustion engines. Tom spent nearly 15 years as President of WVMEP, Inc. providing business and technical consulting services to manufacturers. He also was the Senior Economist at the New Zealand Ministry of Research, Science and Technology, where he developed a national technology commercialization strategy. Tom began his work in manufacturing and innovation at the National Academy of Sciences, where he was Executive Director of the Manufacturing Studies Board addressing multiple research and policy issues regarding U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. Tom received his MA in International Economics and European Affairs at The Johns Hopkins University and his BA in economics from Davidson College.