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Chuck Thorpe, assistant director for advanced manufacturing and robotics at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, addresses a packed room at the Dec. 12, 2011 Advanced Manufacturing Partnership regional meeting. Photo: Scott Soderberg, U-M Photo ServicesANN ARBOR, Mich.—Close to 400 representatives from government, industry and academia gathered at the North Campus Research Complex on Dec. 12 for a national meeting to chart a path to reinvigorate American manufacturing.

U-M President Mary Sue Coleman hosted the fourth and final regional meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a working group advising President Obama. Watch videos of the AMP meeting speakers.

The AMP's charge is to figure out how to bring more emerging technologies out of the lab and into the market, and to develop smarter ways to make current products. The aim is to create high-quality domestic manufacturing jobs and enhance the global competitiveness of the United States. Members of the public are invited to participate in the process. Submit ideas online.

Coleman and Jack Hu, the J. Reid and Polly Anderson Professor of Manufacturing Technology and an associate dean at Michigan Engineering are the university leads of an AMP group focused on developing recommendations on infrastructure to encourage manufacturing innovation.The group will make recommendations in May, 2012.

Speakers at the meeting called for a culture change in the U.S.

“There’s a culture in Germany that says working with your hands is important, and in Switzerland every school kid learns how to build watches. There’s a culture in the U.S. that says we can’t afford to teach shop class. We need to change that attitude,” said Chuck Thorpe, assistant director for advanced manufacturing and robotics at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Coleman said the stakes are highest in Michigan, where more than 10 percent of the workforce is in advanced manufacturing.

"But we also are better positioned than any other state to be the epicenter of manufacturing innovation and resurgence," Coleman said.

Michigan Engineering is already working with industry on advanced manufacturing research. For example, faculty and students at the GM/U-M Collaborative Research Lab in Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing worked closely with GM researchers and engineers to develop an advanced quality monitoring system to help guarantee that the lithium-ion battery assembly used in the Chevrolet Volt meets exceptional quality standards.

U-M and GM also are partners in manufacturing education, delivering the Master of Engineering in Global Automotive and Manufacturing Engineering to employees in various GM sites around the globe.

In addition to U-M, the universities initially involved in the AMP are MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University and the University of California-Berkeley. The manufacturers initially involved are Allegheny Technologies, Caterpillar, Corning, Dow Chemical, Ford, Honeywell, Intel, Johnson and Johnson, Northrop Grumman, Procter and Gamble, and Stryker.

Article topics: Advanced Manufacturing

About Michigan Engineering: The University of Michigan College of Engineering is one of the top engineering schools in the country. Eight academic departments are ranked in the nation's top 10 -- some twice for different programs. Its research budget is one of the largest of any public university. Its faculty and students are making a difference at the frontiers of fields as diverse as nanotechnology, sustainability, healthcare, national security and robotics. They are involved in spacecraft missions across the solar system, and have developed partnerships with automotive industry leaders to transform transportation. Its entrepreneurial culture encourages faculty and students alike to move their innovations beyond the laboratory and into the real world to benefit society. Its alumni base of more than 75,000 spans the globe.

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