With manufacturing as important as it is in Michigan, you’d expect the manufacturing technology effort announced by President Barack Obama in Pittsburgh, Pa. Friday to have plenty of Michigan connections.

And you’d be right.

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Dow Chemical Co. chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris is co-chairman of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, and University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman is one of six university presidents joining the effort. And Michigan’s Ford Motor Co. and Stryker Corp. are among the companies that are part of the effort.

The goal of the new AMP is to invest in the emerging technologies that will create high quality manufacturing jobs and enhance the United States’ global competitiveness. Obama’s plan, which leverages existing programs and proposals, is to invest more than $500 million to jumpstart this effort. Investments will be made in the following key areas: building domestic manufacturing capabilities in critical national security industries; reducing the time needed to make advanced materials used in manufacturing products; establishing U.S. leadership in next-generation robotics; increasing the energy efficiency of manufacturing processes; and developing new technologies that will dramatically reduce the time required to design, build, and test manufactured goods.

“This initiative matters more to Michigan than any other state,” Coleman said. “We are at ground zero for losses in manufacturing jobs. But we also are better positioned to be the epicenter of manufacturing innovation. We know how to retool.”

Coleman noted that small companies are the backbone of large manufacturers.

“We must support small and medium-sized firms and the prototypes they develop. Their technologies and tools are the foundation of large manufacturing companies. We are losing valuable technologies because of a funding chasm between innovative ideas and small manufacturing companies being financially positioned to build to scale. Gap funding can address this gulf.”

Liveris, meanwhile, will be joined by Susan Hockfield, MIT president, in heading the partnership.

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“I am honored to have been selected to Co-chair the Advanced Manufacturing partnership,” said Liveris at the launch ceremony at Carnegie Mellon University. “Through success in manufacturing, the U.S. can generate meaningful long-term employment in key industries and the support positions that accompany them — every new manufacturing job on average creates five additional jobs. By recovering U.S. manufacturing leadership, the U.S. can also maintain and grow its role as the world’s innovation engine. Success at R&D, and in turn, the production of new ideas as products, go hand-in-hand — they can’t be separated. A vibrant manufacturing sector is essential to our competitiveness in cutting-edge technology.”

Last July, Liveris on behalf of Dow launched Dow’s Advanced Manufacturing Plan for America. AMP calls for action on a number of fronts to lower structural costs that are hindering U.S. manufacturing, and to establish a policy framework that will enable economic growth. In January, Liveris published “Make It In America: The Case for Re-Inventing the Economy,” which articulates AMP in detail.

Liveris’ 35-year Dow career has spanned manufacturing, engineering, sales, marketing, and business and general management.

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

The system allows team members manufacturing the battery packs at GM’s Brownstown Township battery plant to monitor the integrity of the battery assembly under process conditions, thus ensuring high-quality battery performance on the road.

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

The AMP is being developed based on the recommendation of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which released a report entitled “Ensuring American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing.” The PCAST report calls for a partnership between government, industry, and academia to identify the most pressing challenges and transformative opportunities to improve the technologies, processes and products across multiple manufacturing industries.
The AMP will be led by Andrew Liveris, chairman, president, and CEO of Dow Chemical, and Susan Hockfield, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Working closely with the White House’s National Economic Council, Office of Science and Technology Policy and the PCAST, AMP will bring together a broad cross-section of major U.S. manufacturers and top U.S. engineering universities.

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