Strength In Numbers… From the Desk of Chris Conrardy, LIFT Interim Executive Director

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to meet with the executive directors and government teams from across the Manufacturing USA network at the NextFlex flexible electronics institute in San Jose, California.

During those meetings I was impressed by the high level of dedication, hard work, and brainpower committed to advancing American manufacturing innovation.  I was also impressed by the diversity of the technologies and application areas Manufacturing USA is advancing.  From fabrics to photonics and from robotics to recycling, the technology being developed will have broad and lasting impacts for the future of American manufacturing.  If you have not had the opportunity to learn about the other Manufacturing USA institutes, I would encourage you to do so at

I was also very encouraged by the continued support and commitment from our federal agency partners for the institutes’ future success.  A consistent theme of the meeting was preparation for the “next phase” of Manufacturing USA, as each institute evolves into a thriving organization that fulfils its important mission as an ongoing public-private partnership.  That diverse mission includes technical innovation and transition, education and workforce development, and helping small to medium size manufacturers leverage technology to compete more effectively.  The federal government expressed a desire to continue partnering with Manufacturing USA in the next phase in each of these areas.  As one of the first Manufacturing USA institutes, LIFT is at the forefront of this transition to the next phase.

Manufacturing technology innovation and workforce readiness are essential not only our economy, but also to our national security.  Each institute plays an important role by convening national ecosystems in their respective technology areas to integrate assets and focus investment where it will make the greatest impact.  America’s diversity is a strength, and to compete globally we must leverage this strength by building effective collaborations between diverse industry, technology suppliers, academia, non-profits, and government partners.

The development and growth of Manufacturing USA has put us on that track. There is truly strength in numbers and together, we can improve the global competitiveness of American manufacturing. I am as optimistic about the future of Manufacturing USA as I have ever been, and I hope each of you is too.

The FIRST International Flavor in Detroit

It was inspirational to see the crowds and hear the buzz around Detroit as the FIRST Robotics World Championships were held here for the first time. More than 15,000 students on 700 teams from 37 countries competed.  Seeing all those young people from around the world engaged and exceling in robotics, engineering, and in many cases, lightweighting was fantastic to see.  We need more young people considering careers in manufacturing, and some of these competitors will inevitably become our future engineers, technicians, and business leaders.

LIFT was lucky enough to host a reception, along with IACMI, for the International teams here in our facility. Those who could break away from the crowds and come by enjoyed themselves, particularly the hands-on demonstrations provided by the Michigan Tech University Mind Trekkers.

We are looking forward to being even more involved with FIRST as Detroit hosts the world championships the next two years!

Your Input is Requested

In our last newsletter, we mentioned that LIFT will be offering a range of new products and services at its Detroit headquarters, along with other support from our network partners. To ensure these new offerings are serving the greatest needs of our members and partners, we have been conducting interviews and have distributed a survey.  We encourage you to share your views as we plan for the next phase of the institute.