Tag: STEM education

TE Connectivity Invests in the Future of Manufacturing

A strong skilled workforce is a tent pole in the manufacturing sector and key to the next generation of innovation and economic growth. Manufacturers are investors in their communities for the long haul and their impact can be seen everywhere you look.

NAM member TE Connectivity has a long history with educational partners and has recently doubled down on their investments in America’s future workforce with a $500,000 gift to Penn State Harrisburg. The gift will create the, “TE Connectivity Capstone Design Endowment to fund Penn State Harrisburg senior engineering capstone projects as well as create the TE Connectivity Lecture Series in Connector Design, which will provide opportunities for students to network with industry experts.”

TE Connectivity employees over 7,400 engineers as part of its global workforce of 90,000 and it knows firsthand the value of providing real world experience to students. It’s about creating a pathway to success and TE embodies the efforts the NAM and Manufacturing Institute have place in STEM education.

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Brookings’ Panel Keeps Focus on Manufacturing Innovation

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” – Peter Drucker.

Common sense, really, but it’s surprising how many people find this a foreign and fearful concept. Washington, D.C. today had the good fortune to hear from two manufacturers who clearly embrace that principle.

An interesting thing happened at this morning’s panel at the Brookings Institute. In a discussion intended to focus on innovation and advanced manufacturing, the subject kept coming back to people. Two of the largest manufacturers in the U.S., Pfizer and Alcoa, both emphasized that their workers are critical to their success. Innovation begins with a spark, an idea, a necessity – and Pfizer and Alcoa are prime examples of companies that have invested heavily in the men and women behind those ideas. But both made it clear that in order to breathe life into the next great advancement, manufacturers need access to the skilled workers who will provide that spark.

“Innovation is the driver for advancement,” Pfizer’s President of Global Supply, Tony Maddaluna, noted (quite correctly). With billions invested in developing the next generation of life-saving and life-improving drugs, Pfizer knows exactly how important a skilled workforce is to that advancement. With 32 research centers around the world, Pfizer is consistently looking to find the best and brightest to take the next step forward. Mr. Maddaluna cited STEM education as a key component to increasing the pipeline of skilled workers. So is immigration reform, which he said will keep brain power in the United States.

Eric Roegner, Alcoa’s head of Investment Castings, Forgings, Extrusions, Oil & Gas and Defense businesses (a title that, as the moderator noted, seems to span the work of five people), described the workforce issues facing manufacturers in an articulate, kitchen-table fashion. Mr. Roegner commented that manufacturers are anchors of our communities. They invest in education, jobs, research and development. They’re just as committed to building their communities as they are to their products. A skilled workforce helps manufacturers do just that – and they take an idea from a simple thought all the way to the marketplace.

It’s nice to spend a morning listening to industry leaders who truly “get it.” They have the fundamental understanding that manufacturing will advance as far as their employees will take it. More STEM education is a major part of that answer. Comprehensive immigration reform will also be critical to ensuring that the next great developments happen in the U.S.

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STEM Education Gets a Boost in Iowa

STEM education is a priority for all manufacturers and the NAM has championed efforts to increase our innovative pipeline. Those efforts begin with leadership, and our immediate past Board Chair, Vermeer Corporation President and CEO Mary Andringa has long been a strong leader in the call for greater STEM education.

An outstanding advocate for manufacturing on all fronts, Mary carries a unique perspective on the need to increase STEM graduates due to her experience in advanced manufacturing. So it’s fitting that yesterday she was named the next Co-Chair of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, a position she’ll hold for the next two years.

After her appointment, Mary commented as to her belief that, “… our state has a great opportunity to make significant progress thanks to the collaborative approach educators in K-12, community colleges, independent colleges and universities have taken toward working with business and government to help Iowa be at the forefront of STEM education.”

Vermeer Corporation is no stranger to education and workforce training. It has been active in working with teachers and education administrative officials across Iowa to boost  STEM opportunities and graduates, along with improved techniques for the class room.

Here at the NAM we know how lucky the Governor’s Council is to be getting Mary as a co-chair. She has always been an outstanding flag bearer for manufacturing and the cause of STEM education is the better for her appointment.

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STEM and Innovation Bound Together at Texas Instruments

Like many students, I thought of Texas Instruments as a student’s best friend when trying to navigate the complexities of high level math and science courses – enabling us to take on rigorous work that likely would have gone over our heads without the technology they provided.

But as a student, I was unaware of TI’s depth of commitment to STEM education and developing new technologies. It’s a commitment with long tradition that remains unwavering to this day.

Yesterday, TI Chairman, President and CEO Rich Templeton delivered the keynote address at a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) event to discuss how critical university research is to America’s future.

The next generation of American innovation is intrinsically tied to the next generation of our workforce – and Mr. Templeton hit the nail on the head when saying, “”The leading companies were founded in the U.S. because many of the best minds in the world were attracted to our research universities and wanted to come here to work with the best and work on the best.”

The NAM is in total agreement with Mr. Templeton’s focus on the recent NAS study titled, “Research Universities and the Future of America.” He highlighted the importance of strengthening government support for science funding at the federal and state levels, strengthening university partnerships with business and building talent especially in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, through improved kindergarten through 12th-grade (K-12) education, stable funding for graduate research, and high-skilled immigration reform.

America innovation is only as good as the men and women working to develop a future we have yet to imagine – and leading companies like Texas Instruments are helping pave the way for a brighter tomorrow by pushing for STEM education today.

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House STEM Bill Key Solution for Manufacturers’ Skills Gap

Today, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced the “Supplying Knowledge-Based Immigrants and Lifting Levels of STEM (SKILLS) Visas Act’’ , which is another step on immigration reform efforts in the House of Representatives.  For years, the NAM has maintained that the Immigration system is broken and manufacturers need access to highly-skilled foreign born talent.

The existing immigration system  is hindering research, development, growth and job creation. The SKILLS Visas Act would raise the number of H-1B visas to 155,000 per year and also increase green cards for advanced degree holders in the STEM fields. In addition, it includes a STEM fund to provide for additional opportunities in the domestic STEM pipeline -a priority of utmost importance to NAM members. The NAM appreciates the work of the House Judiciary Committee, particularly Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Representative Issa .

We look forward to working then them in the coming weeks on this as well as other important legislation to modernize our immigration system.

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STEM Fund Creation Approved for Immigration Reform Bill

The NAM is pleased that Senator Hatch’s amendment just passed by voice vote.  The amendment creates a green card fee whose funds will go to the states to focus on STEM education. This concept is also included in the Hatch Klobuchar I-Squared bill also supported by manufacturers. Investing in domestic STEM education is necessary for the success of US manufacturers. We need to improve the domestic pipeline of talent in the STEM fields to secure the next generation of scientists and researchers. We appreciate Senator Hatch and the committees’ strong support for this effort.

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Workforce Development a Key Positive in Budget

There are many flaws with the President’s budget, but on a positive note is the commitment to career and technical education. Not everyone needs to attain a four-year degree to have a successful career. Obtaining a nationally-portable, industry-recognized post-secondary credential will allow for potential workers to know they are being trained in the skills that employers need today. The President’s budget specifically addresses reforming career and technical education to “better align program with the needs of employers…to ensure that graduates are poised to succeed.” This is a philosophically important point that is of utmost importance to manufacturers. Manufacturers need a strong technical workforce and we are pleased that the administration values this goal.

The budget also asks for $8 million for a Community College fund to support partnerships with business. Manufacturers are already on the ground across the country looking to align community college curriculum to industry-recognized credentials. So, while we appreciate this effort, we are also concerned that there is not more of an emphasis on making existing workforce training programs more efficient by eliminating the bureaucracy and streamlining existing programs, such as the Workforce Investment Act. Our goals are the same but in some cases our process diverges. We look forward to working with the administration on training initiatives that focus on jobs and skills in-demand today as well as training the workforce for the future.

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TI CEO Testimony Hits the Mark on NAM’s Innovation Policy Agenda

The testimony of Texas Instruments’ (TI) CEO, Richard Templeton at the House Science and Technology Committee 2/6 hearing on  “American Competitiveness:  The Role of Research and Development,” endorsed key principles of NAM’s Innovation Policy Agenda with laser precision. His support of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education; reversing the growing skills gap in the United State; boosting underfunded federal, basic research spending; fixing the high skilled immigration system; and providing robust, competitive R&D tax incentives are all smart policies that will drive future innovation and job growth in our country.

Templeton got it right about the role research plays in advancing America’s competitiveness: “…federal funding of fundamental scientific research is critical to our nation’s continued competitiveness, economic growth and workforce development” as basic research is the key to unlocking future innovation in the United States. This is important because innovation has a proven track record in helping manufacturers companies to grow. Manufacturers lead all industries in innovation investments, accounting for 70 percent of all private sector research and development spending. This investment results in new product development, increased productivity, and job creation, not to mention the societal spillover benefits that improve our country’s standard of living.

Other countries recognize the exponential value of being home to world class innovation and have enacted attractive innovation policies to lure future R&D activity outside the United States. Templeton’s testimony gives credence to this global competition by citing a disturbing trend — OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) data showing a decline in the U.S. share of global R&D as a percent of GDP from 39 percent to 34 percent from 1999-2010. He cites other stark statistics such as our current skills gap that “…for every unemployed person in the United States, there are two STEM job postings,” which should be a wakeup call for policymakers.

The NAM joins Mr. Templeton in urging lawmakers to enact smart policies that will reverse this trend and drive future innovation in the United States. A first step would be to avert the across-the- board spending cuts from the sequester set to occur March 1. These arbitrary cuts will foolishly cut federal funding of basic research programs and STEM education. An op-ed coauthored by Mr. Templeton appearing 2/6 in Politico sums up the expected negative impact on innovation from sequestration:  “…there will be a significant, long-term irreparable price to pay if the U.S. government slashes its support for science and engineering and for those who pursue those fields.”

Doesn’t this impending sequester of federal programs that spur innovation reflect the old adage “penny wise, pound foolish”? These imprudent budget cuts if allowed to occur will be a direct hit at future innovation and economic growth that will reverberate for years to come.

NAM applauds Mr. Templeton’s voice for pro-innovation policy that will result in unleashing future American innovation and create a 21st century workforce to meet the needs of manufacturing. Lawmakers would be prudent to act on his recommendations.

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What Did You Do on Your Summer Vacation?

With the summer months behind us and school back in full swing, some students are fortunate enough to return to the classroom with valuable internship experience that will set them up for future academic and professional success. FMC Corporation took on the challenge this summer to increase the number of STEM college internships – a challenge that they more than met, successfully tripling internship placements compared to last summer.

FMC’s internship program placed students at sites across the United States and even abroad in places like Brussels and Shanghai. Interns are able to work on significant projects that directly helped FMC operations. NAM board member and president of FMC Specialty Chemicals, Michael Wilson pointed out that “through internships we can directly impact the future of manufacturing by showing students the many exciting career opportunities open to them in science based companies”.

FMC’s accomplishment is an important step in the effort to increase attention to STEM education. With 600 thousand manufacturing jobs going unfilled, the Manufacturing Institute has taken the lead on addressing the deficits in manufacturing education and training. Getting students exposed to exciting careers available in manufacturing is a great place to start and we commend FMC on their efforts!

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Intel Announces $5 billion Investment, 4,000 New Employees

Heck of a day in Hillsboro. With President Obama on hand, Intel CEO Paul Otellini made some news, “President Obama Visits Intel’s Oregon Research and Manufacturing Site, Highlights Education, Jobs and Innovation.” Highlights:

  • Intel hosts President Obama at its world-class semiconductor research and manufacturing site in Hillsboro, Ore.
  • President discusses jobs and competitiveness in the global economy.
  • Intel CEO Paul Otellini announces plans to build a new $5 billion-plus factory in Arizona.
  • Otellini also reveals plans to hire 4,000 new U.S. employees this year.
  • Education showcased as the President meets with science and math students.

From Otellini’s remarks, the portion describing the new plant going up at Intel’s Ronler Acres site in Hillsboro.

This new factory will play a central role extending Intel’s unquestioned leadership in semiconductor
manufacturing. The transistors and chips it will produce will be the most dynamic platform for innovation
that our company has ever created. Together they will enable more capable computers, the most
advanced consumer electronics and mobile devices, the brains inside the next generation of robotics, and
thousands of other applications that have yet to be invented…. (continue reading…)

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