The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a joint hearing on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, to review the impact of and continued support for Revitalizing American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing, which supports several Manufacturing USA institutes. IACMI – The Composites Institute CEO, John Hopkins, testified during the hearing and emphasized IACMI’s significant and continual contributions to drive innovation to support the nation’s economic growth, workforce development, and national security through U.S. advanced manufacturing collaboration, as one of the Manufacturing USA institutes supported by the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The subcommittee hearing was co-led by Representative Haley Stevens, Chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Research and Technology, and representative of Michigan’s 11th district, which is home to nearly 15 IACMI members, including Bossard, DuPont, DURA Automotive Systems, Continental Structural Plastics, Fiat, and Mitsui Chemicals. Rep. Stevens highlighted the responsibility of advanced manufacturing leadership to bridge the gap among technical research, workforce, and economic development needs. “The demand for manufacturing jobs is met with a gulf of readily available workers,” Stevens stressed. “Currently, the skills gap for advanced technology jobs is projected to leave nearly 2.4 million positions unfilled between today and 2028, with a potential economic impact of $2.5 trillion.”
Alongside Dr. Hopkins, the distinguished panel comprised of NIST Director of the Office of Advanced Manufacturing, Mike Molnar; Director of the DOE Advanced Manufacturing Office, Valri Lightner; Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence Director of Business Development, Ryan Myers; and Dow Chemical Company Associate Research and Development Director of External Technology, Dr. Mitchell Dibbs. Following a brief, five-minute testimony from each panelist, the hearing proceeded to an open discussion to cover the outcomes of the institutes, prospects for continued support, and opportunities for improvement to further accelerate collaboration.
“IACMI has created a nationally connected ecosystem for innovation that serves national security needs, supports innovation and technology validation at scales relevant for commercial adoption, and helps to drive national economic growth,” said Dr. Hopkins in his opening testimony.
When asked to elaborate on the impact IACMI could have on industry sectors not covered in IACMI’s scope under the current agreement, such as infrastructure, Dr. Hopkins addressed IACMI’s capabilities to expand resources and expertise to be poised to meet its consortium members’ markets beyond its current technology sectors, and to improve the resilience of the U.S. competitive advantage and national security in manufacturing.
Dr. Hopkins shared the potential outcomes from innovation carbon recapture saying, “At the core of what we want to accomplish within IACMI is decreasing the embodied energy costs in creating materials, such as carbon fiber. Working to decrease [embodied energy] has a kind of trifold effect. One is it reduces the cost and manufacturing carbon footprint for the manufacturer, itself; another, the applications of the materials are more readily adoptable because of the cost reduction; and it makes them beneficial in the actual product application.” Through these advantages in decreasing embodied energy creates greater opportunities for deployment in critical U.S. markets such as infrastructure – which, additionally, is supported in the Innovative Materials for America’s Growth and Infrastructure Newly Expanded (IMAGINE) Act.
The hearing’s discussion on the unique capabilities of current collaboration in advanced manufacturing research and development demonstrated the critical demand for sustainable, large-scale solutions that de-risk the challenges for industry’s transition to advanced manufacturing processes. IACMI is positioned to provide a pathway to a collaborative ecosystem in which a revitalized, globally competitive American advanced composites industry leads with collective expertise, resources, and partnerships.
IACMI has created a community of consortium members that span the composites supply chain and includes specific emphasis on the engagement of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and manufacturers. More than 50% of IACMI members are SMEs, and they are a critical part of the U.S. composites value chain. IACMI has a strong partnership with trade organizations including the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA). ACC represents the largest chemical companies in the United States. In addition, over 40% of ACC’s approximately 200 member companies are SMEs. ACMA has more than 500 SME members, which are provided opportunities to engage with IACMI.
In addition to the verbal testimony, CSP and ACMA submitted letters of support to include in the written testimony, which can be downloaded below. Additional coverage of the hearing and testimonies can be found on the House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.