Aug 18 2014

Graham Introduces Bill to Designate 'Manufacturing Universities'

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Chris Coons (D-Delaware) 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.

"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.

"The Manufacturing Universities Act recognizes the critical role that research universities can play in sustaining and growing the manufacturing industry sector, which is also one of South Carolina's leading employers," said Dr. James P. Clements, President of Clemson University. "We at Clemson University are excited about the opportunities this legislation could create to expand our existing initiatives in advanced manufacturing workforce development and university-industry research collaborations."

"I want to thank Senators Graham and Coons for their leadership in recognizing the critical role research universities play in the development of the American workforce and our future economic prosperity," said Harris Pastides, President of the University of South Carolina. "The Council on Competitiveness has said that our country must foster innovation and rapid commercialization and has named manufacturing as a key initiative. At USC, we are responding to the call and leading the way with new initiatives like our Office of Economic Engagement and McNair Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research. We're committed to providing our students with the classroom and experiential learning opportunities to succeed in a high tech economy and engaging industry to understand and meet the needs of next-generation manufacturing. Federal support for closing the innovation deficit is crucial and the Manufacturing Universities Act can help ensure America's workforce remains the best educated and most competitive for generations to come."

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, Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, the University of Illinois, the University of Missouri, the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University, DOW Chemical, and DuPont.