Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow Names New CEO and Executive Director

Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), a Manufacturing USA institute, has announced that Nigel Francis has been named the institute’s CEO and executive director. Francis succeeds Chris Conrardy, who had been serving as the interim executive director since January. Francis will be based in LIFT’s Detroit headquarters.

LIFT is operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute and is one of the founding Manufacturing USA institutes, a public-private partnership dedicated to developing and deploying advanced lightweight metal manufacturing technologies as well as education and workforce training programs.

“Nigel has a wealth of knowledge and experience in business strategy development, business growth, customer relationship development, engineering, technology development and management, business and operations management, and manufacturing technology,” says Becky Stewart, chairman of the board of directors for the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute. “In LIFT, Nigel inherits a world-class facility, an outstanding staff, and an incredible network of industry and education and workforce development experts. We believe those assets, along with Nigel’s experience, will lead the institute to fulfill its mission of revolutionizing manufacturing through lightweight metals innovation and education.”

Francis has spent much of his career in advanced manufacturing, specifically in the automotive sector in various roles that include vice president, advanced engineering and technology development at LIFT Gold member American Axle; vice president, vehicle engineering at Mercedes-Benz technology; senior automotive advisor to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder; and inaugurator of the Automotive Industry Office in the State of Michigan.

“I am passionate about manufacturing technology and the need for the U.S. to re-assert itself as the global leader in the manufacturing space,” says Francis. “I am honored to have the opportunity to take on this important role in the evolution of LIFT and the Manufacturing USA network, and to lead the critically important manufacturing technology commercialization business, impacting the future of our national manufacturing industry.”