Molnar: “We need an innovation policy”

New NIST Chief Manufacturing Officer speaks at imX event on ways to grow manufacturing


Mike Molnar noted that in his first week in Washington as the new Chief Manufacturing Officer for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the area suffered an earthquake and a hurricane. Comparatively speaking, his appearance as the keynote at the first imX conference in Las Vegas was a breeze.

It helped he was speaking to an audience eager to help manufacturing grow. “A lot of people don’t understand the importance of manufacturing. You do,” Molar told the audience at the Las Vegas Convention Center. “In my family, there was no more noble thing than being in manufacturing. I’m a manufacturing guy.”

Molnar noted that the myths of U.S. manufacturing – that the U.S. is no longer a manufacturing leader and that manufacturing is still a dark and dangerous job – are not supported by any facts. He did challenge manufacturers to do a better job of embracing the modern realities of manufacturing.

“The concern isn’t about who is number 1. The concern is about advanced manufacturing, about growing jobs in the U.S. Manufacturing these days is global.

“Other nations are involved with an industrial policy,” he added. “We need an innovation policy.” That feeling was reflected in a recent report to President Obama, which said the U.S. is losing manufacturing leadership “in the production of high-tech products, including those resulting from U.S. innovation and inventions, and in manufacturing-related R+D.”

The federal Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, one of the key areas of responsibility for Molnar in his new post, has four basic goals:

  • Improve tax policies
  • Support research and development
  • Strengthen the existing and emerging workforce
  • Create partnerships with industry and education.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership “brings industry, universities and the federal government together to invest in emerging technologies,” and demonstrates the President’s commitment to “building domestic manufacturing capabilities to create the new products, new industries and new jobs of the future.”

“A healthy domestic manufacturing industry is vital to our nation’s economic recovery,” said Peter Borden, president of imX, partner with the American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association. “Our leaders in Washington know it, and the industry knows it. At imX, we’re coming together to determine how to work collaboratively to strengthen a manufacturing base that will continue creating jobs for American workers and provide a solid foundation for sustained economic growth.”

- Edited by Chris Vavra, Plant Engineering, 

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