Mar 19 2015

Graham Backs 'Manufacturing Universities' Designation

Contact: Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417 or Lorcan Connick (202) 224-5972

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has introduced The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015 to ensure we meet the growing demands of 21st century manufacturing by strengthening our universities’ engineering programs.

The bill directs the Department of Commerce to designate 25 universities as ‘Manufacturing Universities’ in an effort to better align educational offerings with the needs of advanced manufacturers. The resources provided to designees would be used to bolster universities’ efforts to prioritize engineering and manufacturing 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 on additional, innovative ways to ensure our manufacturing sector thrives and maintains its international competitiveness in the years to come.”

The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015, also supported by Senators Chris Coons (D-Delaware), Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), 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 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 support advanced manufacturing workforce development, research and university-industry collaborations that foster innovation and entrepreneurship.”

“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 Clemson University, the University of South Carolina, 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, 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, the University of Connecticut, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Clarkson University, Dow, DuPont, and Siemens.