Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Today President Barack Obama is visiting Pittsburgh as part of an initiative to push increased manufacturing innovation and entrepreneurship. According to the White House 646,000 jobs have been added in the manufacturing sector since February 2010 and the president would like to see the trend continue.
More than 90 mayors from cities across the country, including Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, have joined in the president's manufacturing push and have committed to the "Mayors Maker Challenge." They've agreed to increase shared access to manufacturing tools and prototyping equipment, while also promoting careers in manufacturing and engineering.
“U.S. manufacturing has been on the rise,” Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council, said yesterday in a conference call with reporters. “The growth rate of growing manufacturing firms is at its fastest since 1993. Mayors are seeing this trend, capitalizing on the trend and facilitating the trend.”
As part of his commitment, on June 9, Mayor Peduto convened a roundtable with local leaders from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Society for Contemporary Craft, Manchester Bidwell and BirdBrain Technologies. And over the past few years, schools in the region have received more than $1 million in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathamatics) educational grants to create art, technology and design programs.
According to White House officials, Pittsburgh's TechShop was the perfect location for President Obama to launch his initiative because it embodies the "makers movement." TechShop, which is a national company with eight locations in cities throughout the country, provides members with access to a wide variety of tools and equipment including laser cutters, plastics and electronics labs, a machine shop, a wood shop, a metal working shop, a textiles department, welding stations, and design software.
“The rise of the maker movement represents a great opportunity for the United States,” Tom Kalil, deputy director for technology and Innovation, office of science and technology policy, said Monday. “You’re lowering the cost and making it easier to launch a manufacturing or hardware start up.”
For their part in the initiative, the federal government will open up access to more than $5 billion worth of advanced equipment in research and development facilities. Examples including letting entrepreneurs test prototypes in NASA's wind tunnel, and providing access to the Department of Energy's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, where ongoing projects included clean energy technologies.
The Obama administration will also be investing $150 million into the Materials Genome Initiative, which is focused on manufacturing advanced materials.
To continue his roll out of these initiatives, tomorrow President Obama will host the first ever White House Maker Fair to bring attention to successful manufacturing entrepreneurs and start-ups.