WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate passed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which included important bipartisan legislation that will help U.S. universities strengthen their engineering programs to meet the demands of the modern manufacturing industry. Manufacturing Universities, led by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), authorizes the Department of Defense to support industry-relevant, manufacturing-focused, engineering training at U.S. universities. Institutions would be selected through a competitive grant-based process and would be required to better align their educational offerings with the needs of modern U.S. manufacturers.
“I’m thrilled the Senate came together in a bipartisan way to pass our legislation that will help students across the country acquire the skills they need for jobs in today’s advanced manufacturing industries,” said Senator Coons. “Manufacturing has transformed over the years but job training programs offered at universities have failed to keep up, leaving students unprepared to meet the demands of 21st century manufacturing. We need to better equip Delawareans and students across the country for today’s advanced manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing Universities will do just that by ensuring our country is offering higher education that gives young people the skills necessary to excel in this growing field. ”
“I am so pleased that we were able to work successfully across the aisle to include in this year’s NDAA this important provision that will strengthen manufacturing in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Senator Ayotte. “This legislation works to ensure that students have the education and skills they need to compete in the 21st century workforce and to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. It has been an honor to work with Senators Coons, Baldwin, Gillibrand and Graham on this legislation that will help better prepare our students for good-paying manufacturing jobs.”
“As the demand for a highly skilled workforce continues to grow, I’m proud to have worked across party lines to support the Manufacturing Universities Act,” said Senator Baldwin. “This bipartisan legislation will strengthen engineering programs and help ensure that our universities offer courses that can better prepare students for our 21st century advanced manufacturing economy. It will also give students the tools they need to carry on Wisconsin’s tradition of making things, and move our manufacturing economy forward.”
“I am pleased that the Senate came together to pass our bipartisan Manufacturing Universities bill as part of this year’s NDAA,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This legislation gives our universities access to new resources that can help them prepare more engineers, more product designers, more innovators, and more men and women to drive our economy forward. No job should go unfilled and no company’s expansion should ever be inhibited because there aren’t enough trained workers ready to work, and this legislation takes important steps to give students the skills they need to compete in the 21st century manufacturing workforce.”
“This is an incredibly important issue for our states’ institutions of higher education and manufacturing industries,” said Senator Graham. “It will foster entrepreneurship and innovation by prioritizing advanced manufacturing, research, and industry collaboration. 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.”
Manufacturing Universities would establish a program within the Department of Defense charged with designating schools as ‘Manufacturing Universities.’ Designated schools would receive federal grant funding to meet specific goals, including focusing engineering programs on development of industry-relevant advanced manufacturing skills, building new partnerships with manufacturing firms, growing hands-on training opportunities for students, and fostering manufacturing entrepreneurship. The program would be run by the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with other federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Education.
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.