Since 2012, sixteen Manufacturing USA Institutes have been established by the federal government. Nine of these organizations have been sponsored by DoD, under OSD ManTech. The DoD Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (MIIs) are focused on specific technology areas that have been identified as critical for the future of DoD and for which manufacturing technology maturation is an important need for technology implementation. The DoD MIIs are as follows:
- AFFOA (Advanced Functional Fabrics of America) (2016) is working to enable a manufacturing-based revolution by transforming traditional fibers, yarns, and fabrics into highly sophisticated, integrated, and networked devices and systems.
- AIM Photonics (American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics) (2015) is working to accelerate the transition of integrated photonic solutions from innovation to manufacturing-ready deployment in systems spanning commercial and defense applications.
- America Makes (National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute) (2012) is a national accelerator and the nation’s leading collaborative partner for technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation in additive manufacturing and 3D printing.
- ARM (Advanced Robotics Manufacturing) (2017) has the mission to create and then deploy robotic technology by integrating the diverse collection of industry practices and institutional knowledge across many disciplines—sensor technologies, end-effector development, software and artificial intelligence, materials science, human and machine behavior modeling, and quality assurance—to realize the promises of a robust manufacturing innovation ecosystem.
- BioFabUSA (Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute) (2017) has the mission to make practical the large-scale manufacturing of engineered tissues and tissue-related technologies to benefit existing industries and grow new ones.
- MxD (Manufacturing x Digital Institute) (2014) is working to enable factories across the United States to deploy digital manufacturing and design technologies so that those factories can become more efficient and cost competitive.
- LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow) (2014) is working to develop and deploy advanced lightweight materials manufacturing technologies.
- NEXTFLEX (America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics Manufacturing Institute) (2015) has the mission of adding electronics to new and unique materials that are part of everyday lives in conjunction with the power of silicon integrated circuits to create conformable and stretchable smart products.
- BioMADE (Biomanufacturing and Design Ecosystem) (2020) seeks to advance sustainable and reliable bio-industrial manufacturing technologies.
In 2019, the director of OSD ManTech asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to perform a study on how DoD should engage with DoD’s MIIs in the future. The National Academies’ study made a series of recommendations and suggestions for further study.1 In 2020, OSD ManTech asked the National Academies to perform a second fast-track study to provide strategic guidance in three important suggestions from the first study: protocols for conducting long term engagement assessments of the MIIs including evaluation metrics (Task 1), best practices for MII EWD programs (Task 2), and development of strategies for better connecting MIIs to the broader DoD community (Task 3).2 DoD is initiating formal 5-year evaluations of the DoD MIIs in 2021. In order to be responsive to DoD needs, OSD ManTech asked that an interim report focused on Task 1 be provided in a timeframe that would allow the National Academies’ perspectives to be used in the execution of the first MII evaluations. The final report from this Phase 2 study will document findings and recommendations relevant to Tasks 2 and 3.
The statement of task (SOT) for this study is shown in Appendix A. The charge to the committee was to provide general strategic guidance in three topical areas, as follows:
- Protocols for conducting long-term engagement assessments of the MIIs, including evaluation criteria;
- Best practices in education and workforce development (EWD) for the MIIs, including scale-up methodologies for collaborative efforts by the MIIs in EWD; and
- Steps for improving MII linkages with other parts of the DoD and with the broader federally funded research enterprise;
The output of this fast-track project will be a short interim consensus report addressing the first bullet of the SOT and a final consensus report addressing the remaining two bullets of the SOT that draws from the information gathered by the committee and other public information sources, as needed, and provides findings, options, and, if the information gathered justifies them, recommendations for DoD to consider in developing its long-term role with existing and potential future MIIs sponsored by DoD in the three areas identified.
This Phase 2 study is a “rapid response” study with a 10-month period of performance. In order to be supportive of DoD’s plans for the initiation of the MII evaluations, this interim report on Task 1 will be completed within a 6-month period of performance that started on October 1, 2020. Data gathering in support of the three study tasks is being performed using a combination of document reviews, one-on-one phone or video interviews, committee video meetings with DoD and MII personnel who actively support the MIIs, as well as the broader DoD community.3 The committee also provided a request for input questionnaire to relevant groups from DoD, industry, and the general public. The committee convened to discuss these inputs and to formulate its consensus findings and recommendations. A final report will be submitted that fully addresses all three tasks, with a focus on Tasks 2 and 3.
1 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2019, Strategic Long-Term Participation by DoD in Its Manufacturing USA Institutes, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, https://doi.org/10.17226/25417.