Manufacturing Our Future
February 13, 2012
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U.S. manufacturing has been declining as a share of our nation's gross domestic product for many decades. Our nation has lost almost 30 percent of manufacturing jobs during the last decade. Concurrently, emerging economies have vastly increased manufacturing capacity. In-depth knowledge of manufacturing processes has boosted innovation in these nations. Hence, the nation should launch a "leap-ahead" advanced manufacturing initiative to boost the development of potentially transformative products and emerging technologies.
NSF's Cyber-Enabled Materials, Manufacturing, and Smart Systems portfolio will spur U.S. marketplace innovation, yielding high-technology jobs and industrial growth, while accelerating convergence of frontier research in materials, cyber-enabled systems, and manufacturing science. The Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer Our Future program will accelerate materials discovery and development, allowing deployment of advanced systems twice as fast as today, and at a fraction of the cost. Cyber Physical Systems research will transform static manufacturing systems to "smart" systems that deeply integrate computation, communication, and control with physical processes.
NSF will continue to lead the multi-agency National Robotics Initiative to accelerate the development and use of robots that work cooperatively with, or alongside, people in manufacturing environments. The use of cooperative robots will optimize workforce productivity gains and long-term economic growth, increasing efficiency, performance, and safety.
The agency's nanomanufacturing component of the National Nanotechnology Initiative will support efforts across NSF aimed at enabling reliable, cost-effective, and scaled-up manufacturing of nanoscale materials, structures, devices, and systems.
Educational programs are also critical to the future of U.S. manufacturing, enabling advances in undergraduate and community college curricula in manufacturing technology and engineering. Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers and Engineering Research Centers facilitate student training via research immersion and technical advances readily adopted by industry. The Advanced Technological Education program focuses on education for high-technology fields, with an emphasis on two-year colleges to produce well-qualified technicians for existing and emerging high-technology fields.
The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.