|In This Issue of PEI e-News...
Manufacturing Innovation Network Sparking Interest
There has been recent “buzz” within the
industrial community that American innovation is slowly coming back to the
forefront of domestic research and development. Among that mindset is a pilot program—the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation—which was launched in 2012 and is now beginning to
attract attention from much-needed stakeholders, namely Congress and the
As originally proposed in 2011 by the Obama
administration, NNMI aims to build an initial network of 15 research
institutes, all focusing on developing and commercializing competitive manufacturing
technologies through public-private partnerships between US industry,
universities, and federal government agencies. Each institute will be tasked with a unique research concentration and will serve
as a regional hub for innovative manufacturing R&D advancement. NNMI’s
longer-term goal is an expansion up to 45 IMIs.
A pilot institute was
established in Youngstown, Ohio, in August 2012, initially funded with $30
million from federal agencies and an additional $40 million from private
resources. Utilizing the financial backing of more than $300 million from both
federal and private resources, three additional IMIs located in Raleigh, North Carolina; Chicago; and Detroit recently began operations in January and February.
Collectively, these organizations will:
- Assist the
United States to grow its capabilities in 3-D printing, also known as additive
manufacturing, by fostering collaboration in design, materials, and technology;
on enabling energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices by making
wide band-gap semiconductor technologies more cost competitive with current
silicon-based power electronics;
interoperability across the supply chain, develop enhanced digital capabilities
to design and test new products, and reduce costs in manufacturing processes
across multiple industries; and
processes that accelerate scale-up of production of lightweight alloys for use
in wind turbines, air frames, medical devices, combat vehicles, and other
products, leading to significant reductions in manufacturing and energy costs.
NNMI is also a vital component of the
bipartisan Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2013 (S.
1468), which was passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee in early April.
proposed in S. 1468 for the development of next-generation manufacturing R&D would be modeled on the
IMI hubs already established by President Obama, using existing funds redirected from other agencies and private
contributions, mostly from industry stakeholders. A companion bill to the Senate measure
has been introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 2996) and was
referred to committee last August.
development is a critical piece of the innovation pipeline that feeds our
growing manufacturing sector and creates high-quality jobs,” says Sen.
Christopher Coons (D-DE), one of the bill’s cosponsors. “Manufacturers invest
more in R&D than any other sector, but high costs and significant risk
often limit the scope and impact of their efforts. Manufacturing innovation
institutes would leverage limited resources by bringing researchers and
manufacturers together to spur innovation, commercialize R&D, and create
More recently, the
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation praised NNMI’s inclusion in
President Obama’s 2015 budget proposal, earmarking a $1 billion appropriation.
ITIF President Robert Atkinson emphasizes, “The United States is in a global
race for innovation advantage and must create new conduits for improving the
technological capacity and competitiveness of our manufacturing firms or risk
falling further behind our international competitors.”
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers supports a similar contention. In
its report 2014: Manufacturing’s New
Momentum, Manufacturing Engineering Media, SME’s media division, states, “After decades of losses—of work, factories, and jobs—the
US manufacturing industry has clear momentum again, no matter how moderate it
might be, and how uncertain it might feel to those still feeling the sting of
the Great Recession.” The report notes that technological
innovation is leading a US manufacturing renaissance that has the potential
to bring work back to America for years to come, and that the trend is
sustainable if the nation continues to invest in developing advanced manufacturing
technologies and a highly skilled workforce.
There is room for optimism, despite a
faltering economic recovery. The US trade deficit narrowed to $34.3 billion
in November 2013, according to the report’s findings, and although much of that
narrowing was due to decreased petroleum imports, the value of exported goods
also rose to $137 billion—an all-time high. Total manufacturing exports
totaled $1.2 trillion for the 12-month period ending in September 2013, an
increase of 38% since 2009.
still remain, the report emphasizes. Finding enough skilled workers for
advanced manufacturing jobs is a major concern, with shortage estimates of the
skills gap ranging as high as 600,000 workers. While the depth of the skills
gap is open for debate, there is little doubt that it will widen during the
coming years due to an aging workforce and a lack of qualified candidates. Despite
the challenges, though, the manufacturing industry is poised for continued
growth, particularly in the aerospace, automotive, and energy sectors, the
recognized author and commerce and trade columnist for The Huffington Post, addresses a different approach for NNMI’s
mission. In a Post blog, he says, “It
follows that the key question that will need to be asked, whenever NNMI
considers funding some project, is whether it is being asked to fund something
that the private sector should be funding on its own.” He recommends
that NNMI should seek out projects that have the following characteristics:
- They involve developing technologies where much of the benefit
will “leak” to parties not compelled by patent or other regulation to help
defray the cost of developing them.
- They involve developing technologies whose payoff, though
substantial, will occur beyond an approximately seven-year time horizon.
“These two key issues are a highly abstract description of the
problems involved,” Fletcher adds, “and they ramify enormously and interact
with other issues—giving rise, for example, to the notorious ‘valley of
death’ problem in innovation . . . . But getting these issues right will be
fundamental to any successful, active industrial policy.”
Engineering Industrial Exemptions & PA Legislation
Recently, a report by the Industrial Exemption
Task Force of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying
was released detailing the status of exemptions from engineering licensure
laws and regulations in each licensure jurisdiction in the US.
The NSPE policy regarding industrial exemptions, modified by the NSPE House of
Delegates in 2012, is as follows: “It is the policy of the National Society of
Professional Engineers (NSPE) that all engineers who are in responsible charge
of the practice of engineering as defined in the NCEES Model Law and Rules in a
manner that potentially impacts the public health, safety, and welfare should
be required by all state statutes to be licensed professional engineers. NSPE
recommends the phasing out of existing industrial exemptions in state licensing
laws.” As state societies of NSPE consider whether to work together with state
licensing boards on legislative initiatives to phase out industrial exemptions,
this table (PDF) provides valuable
The Pennsylvania Society
of Professional Engineers is backing legislation in the General Assembly that
removes the industrial exemption for engineering licensure requirements from
the commonwealth’s law regulating design professionals.
The bill (H.B. 1447)
amends the licensure law to remove the exemption that allows the practice of
engineering work by a manufacturing, mining, communications, common carrier,
research and development, or other industrial corporation or by employees of
the corporation provided that the work is in connection with the products or
nonengineering related services of the corporation or its affiliates.
Read the full article in the April edition of PE magazine (log-in required).
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Save the Date!
Join professional engineers from around the country for networking, continuing education, and a fantastic Fourth of July celebration in the nation's capital!
Conveniently located in the heart of Washington, DC, with easy access to museums, the National Mall, and all Independence Day festivities, the NSPE 2014 Annual Meeting is one you and your family won't want to miss.
Check out this page for details and registration information.
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Engineering a Stronger Profession
Since July 2012, NSPE and its members have been engaged in an open process aimed at building a Society dedicated to organizational innovation and development. The foundation of that effort has been the association management book Race for Relevance, which outlines the challenges faced by today’s associations and provides a plan for change.
Informed by data collected through extensive surveying and the active engagement of about 100 members from 41 states involved in seven task forces, the NSPE Board of Directors has committed itself to reinvigorating an organization that has been serving professional engineers for 80 years. By following the changes outlined in Race for Relevance, NSPE will be renewing its unique and vital role in promoting and protecting the value of the licensed professional engineer.
The NSPE Board is committed to integrating the values, strategies, objectives, and action plan outlined in its new Statement of Strategic Direction (approved January 29, 2014) into the very fabric of NSPE’s ongoing governance and operations.
Staying Strategic (March 2014 PE)
By Executive Director Mark Golden
Change or Be Changed (April 2014 PE)
By President Robert Green, P.E., F.NSPE
Background on NSPE’s Race for Relevance initiative.
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NSPE Legislative Affairs News
NSPE Expresses Serious Concerns With the FUELS Act
On March 19, the National Society of Professional Engineers urged Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) to reconsider his bill S. 496, the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act. The FUELS Act would substantially weaken the current EPA Spill, Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule, placing the public and the farmers it seeks to protect at increased risk of devastating oil spills. NSPE understands that some members of the agricultural community have concerns with the current SPCC rule. NSPE would like to underscore two important points, though: first, the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare must be of paramount importance; and second, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that most farms would be exempt from the rule. Read the press release.
NSPE Members Visit with Members of Congress to Advocate for the Professional Engineering Community
On March 6, NSPE members and staff participated in the 2014 Society of Women Engineers Capitol Hill Day to discuss issues of importance to professional engineers, including STEM education, investment in national infrastructure, and qualifications-based selection. NSPE Treasurer Julia Harrod, P.E., F.NSPE, and NSPE Legislative and Government Affairs Committee STEM Task Force Chair Karen Moran, P.E., F.NSPE, lead the delegation and met with several champions of engineering. Visits with Representatives Donna Edwards (D-MD), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), Paul Tonko (D-NY), and NSPE's very own PE in Congress, David McKinley, P.E. (R-WV), were extremely productive. There is growing interest and commitment to NSPE's issues and these visits served to bring these matters to the forefront.
For all the latest NSPE legislative activities visit the NSPE website.
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NSPE Spring Webinar Series
NSPE's spring webinar series features a session on May 14 titled A Conversation on Employment and Professional Practice, hosted by Arthur Schwartz, NSPE's deputy executive director and general counsel, who will be joined by other ethics experts.
Get a group of your colleagues together in the conference room and all of you can participate and receive credit for the low member price of $99. The webinar will be held from 12:30–1:30 p.m. EST.
Access the entire webinar schedule on the NSPE website. Don't miss out! Register online today.
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Contact the 2013–14 PEI Executive Board Officers
For a complete list of PEI Executive Board Officers, visit the PEI website.
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Is your company interested in reaching more than 5,000 engineers? If so, contact PEI Manager Erin Garcia to learn about sponsoring the next edition of PEI e-News.
Participate in PEI today!
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