Senator Coons joined leaders from the University of Delaware Thursday to announce new legislation designed to boost STEM education and help universities prepare students for careers in innovation and advanced manufacturing. The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2014 would award competitive grants to 25 designated ‘manufacturing universities,’ to better align educational offerings with the needs of modern manufacturers.
“The entire lifecycle of innovation, skills, and creativity in manufacturing has to include universities,” Senator Coons said. “Universities have a central role to play in continuing the cycle of innovation that is essential if American manufacturing is to continue its current recovery. Over the last three years, our economy has regained 600,000 manufacturing jobs, but hundreds of thousands more remain unfilled because there aren’t enough appropriately skilled and trained process engineers, mechanical engineers, and chemical engineers to keep that innovation going.”
Grants of $5 million per year, for a four-year period, will help universities revamp their engineering programs to emphasize manufacturing skills, incentivize partnerships with local manufacturers, increase internship and cooperative education opportunities for students, and help more recent graduates launch new manufacturing businesses.
“We want more students graduating with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century manufacturing environment, and we want more of our universities orienting themselves toward this field where we can win, our communities can win, and our country can win.”
Following the announcement Senator Coons visited with biochemistry students and faculty at UD’s Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory (ISE Lab) to demonstrate a chemical reaction and discuss the importance of STEM education.