WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate passed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that just passed the House, which includes important bipartisan legislation that will help U.S. universities and qualified organizations strengthen their engineering programs and prepare students to meet the demands of the modern manufacturing industry. The provision is based on the Manufacturing Universities legislation, led by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). The bill will authorize the Department of Defense to support industry-relevant, manufacturing-focused, engineering training at U.S. universities and qualified organizations, including non-profits.  Universities and organizations would be selected through a competitive grant-based process and required to better align their educational offerings with the needs of modern U.S. manufacturers. President Obama is expected to sign the NDAA into law in the coming weeks. 

“There are many measures to be proud of in this year’s NDAA, and one of those is the establishment of the Manufacturing Engineering Education Grant Program,” said Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Manufacturing is vitally important to the economic wellbeing of our country, and it is critical that our schools and universities are providing students the tools they need to be successful in this field. This program will go a long way in helping schools establish and modernize their curricula in manufacturing engineering.” 

“I’m thrilled Congress came together in a bipartisan way to help students across the country acquire the skills they need for jobs in today’s advanced manufacturing industries,” said Senator Coons. “Manufacturing has evolved over the years and we need to ensure engineering programs meet the demands of 21stcentury manufacturing. This important legislation will help universities modernize curricula and better equip Delawareans and students across the country with the skills necessary for today’s advanced manufacturing jobs.” 

“This legislation will help ensure that students in New Hampshire and across the nation have the education and skills they need to compete in the 21st century workforce and to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States,” said Senator Ayotte. “It has been an honor to work with my colleagues on this measure that will help better prepare our students for good-paying manufacturing jobs.” 

“This bipartisan bill will give students many new opportunities and resources to pursue careers in manufacturing, and I’m very pleased that it passed the Senate today,” said Senator Gillibrand. “In recent years, high-tech manufacturing companies have struggled to fill open positions because prospective employees don’t have the requisite training. This bill will finally help our manufacturers overcome this challenge, and I look forward to seeing it signed into law by the President as quickly as possible.”

“This is an incredibly important issue for our states’ institutions of higher education and manufacturing industries,” said Senator Graham. “I’m glad this important initiative is on track toward being signed into law.  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 original bipartisan standalone legislation, S. 771, was endorsed by the 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, Young Invincibles, New York State Technology & Engineering Educators’ Association, North American Manufacturing Research Institution, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Clemson University, University of South Carolina, University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, 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, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Connecticut, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Clarkson University, the Ohio State University, Alfred University, Northern Illinois University, Wayne State University, Georgia Tech University, Florida State University, AMETEK Floorcare & Specialty Motors, Dow, DuPont, and Siemens.