Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced bipartisan legislation to help universities in New York and throughout the country strengthen their engineering programs to meet the demands of the modern manufacturing industry. The Manufacturing Universities legislation authorizes the Department of Defense to support training at U.S. universities to help equip students with skills to compete in the 21st century manufacturing workforce. Universities would be selected through a competitive grant-based process and would tailor their educational curriculum to the needs of modern U.S. manufacturers. The provision passed the Senate as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act and now heads to the President for signature.
“The Manufacturing Universities legislation will give students many new opportunities and resources to pursue careers in manufacturing,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I fought to include this provision in the NDAA because in recent years, high-tech manufacturing companies have struggled to find qualified prospective employees to fill open positions. This provision will help our manufacturers overcome this challenge and takes important steps to give students the skills they need to compete in the 21st century manufacturing workforce.”
“The Manufacturing Universities legislation is a timely and welcome recognition of the importance of preparing the next generation of our manufacturing workforce and the central role of manufacturing in enabling the U.S. economy to thrive”, said RIT President Bill Destler. “Any way in which we can continue to foster and strengthen the partnership between universities and the manufacturing sector are investments in our nation’s future and we applaud Sen. Gillibrand’s commitment and support for this legislation.”
“On behalf of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute we congratulate Senator Gillibrand on the passage of the Manufacturing Universities Act. Rensselaer is a national leader in advanced manufacturing education and research, with vibrant programs, advanced courses, and world-class facilities. Our outstanding faculty and a diverse student body – with over 1000 women enrolled in our Rensselaer Engineering programs – are bringing fresh new ideas and approaches to modern manufacturing. In fact, Rensselaer was recently named a regional hub in the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute sponsored by the Department of Energy. The Manufacturing Universities Act will boost American competitiveness through grants to leading universities like Rensselaer to enhance educational programing, foster partnerships with industry, and educate leaders in advanced manufacturing,” said Shekhar Garde, Dean of Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
“We thank Senator Gillibrand for championing university-industry partnerships and for working to strengthen the education of engineers with the goal of bolstering America’s advanced manufacturing efforts,” said Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger. “Binghamton has a long history of collaborating with industry and educating and training our students to work and make significant contributions in industry. We are very excited about the opportunities this new act will bring.”
“I commend Senator Gillibrand for her work to include the Manufacturing Universities legislation in the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act,” said J. Michael Haynie, Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation at Syracuse University. “This legislation represents an a new and innovative pathway for the nation’s colleges and universities to partner with the public sector in an effort to advance our country’s manufacturing competitiveness in the face of an increasingly knowledge-driven economy. America’s colleges and universities are uniquely positioned to empower students and provide them with the tools they need to be successful in our nation’s high-tech industrial workforce. I look forward to working with Senator Gillibrand on the implementation of this important legislation.”
The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress last week authorizes the Department of Defense to support industry-relevant, manufacturing-focused engineering training at U.S. universities. Universities and other participating organizations would be selected through a competitive grant-based process and required to better align their education programming with the needs of modern U.S. manufacturers, 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. This provision is based on the bipartisan Manufacturing Universities Act championed by Senator Gillibrand.
The legislation 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, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Clemson University, University of South Carolina, University of Pennsylvania, 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, the University of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Connecticut, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Clarkson University, The Ohio State University, Dow, DuPont, and Siemens.