State of Manufacturing: Purdue University Kickoff Fires Up the Next Generation

By February 3, 2015General

This State of Manufacturing blog is authored by Purdue University President and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. To learn more about the 2015 State of Manufacturing Tour, visit

Purdue University is pleased to welcome the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) to West Lafayette, Ind., today, where it will be my honor to help kick off the 2015 State of Manufacturing Tour with NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

No state is more tied to manufacturing in America than Indiana. Almost 17 percent of the Hoosier workforce is employed in the sector, close to double the national average and more than any other state. Indiana in many ways is a bellwether for the manufacturing economy: So it’s good news for the state of manufacturing that Indiana’s economy and manufacturing sector are growing.

No university is better positioned than Purdue to contribute to such growth, especially as the sector becomes increasingly high tech. As our faculty researchers attest, the future of manufacturing is bright, with new materials, new modes of production, and ever-increasing levels of sophistication in the manufacturing processes and the goods produced. Purdue is a model for how research universities can make high-tech contributions to manufacturing.

One exciting example will open near our campus in a matter of months when GE Aviation completes a 225,000 square foot facility that will assemble the new LEAP jet engine. Purdue’s strength in engineering research was a major factor for GE in determining where to locate the facility.

Another example is the recent announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy that Purdue will lead one of the five research centers affiliated with the new Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation. The multi-state initiative includes a Purdue research team that will develop and launch a “Composites Virtual Factory” to deploy and integrate manufacturing simulation tools.

As excited as we are about both of these examples, none is more thrilling for our students than the Purdue Pathmaker program. Pathmaker allows students to have their cake and eat it, too, by working for major companies like HP, Cisco and Intel without leaving campus or delaying graduation. Through so-called residential internships, Purdue students can now gain experience developing and testing components and devices in part-time engineering jobs they report to right on campus.

Such opportunities and partnerships are just a sample of those ongoing at Purdue and land-grant research universities around the country. As the nature of manufacturing in America continues to evolve, expanding these partnerships must be a priority for both industry and higher education. Purdue is ready for the challenge, and ready to lead.

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