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PCAST Launches Policy Forum on the Future of U.S. Advanced Manufacturing

Today, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) launched a website to gather public opinion on the future of advanced manufacturing.

Today, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) launched a website to gather public opinion on the future of advanced manufacturing. We hope you will join the conversation at

PCAST is an advisory group of the nation's leading scientists and engineers, appointed by the President to augment the science and technology advice available to him from inside the White House and from cabinet departments and other federal agencies. One topic it is currently addressing is advanced manufacturing. PCAST has a number of questions regarding advanced manufacturing that could best be answered with the help of public input. PCAST asks that you provide responses to any or all of the following questions by 5:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 20, 2010.

Support for new manufacturing technologies

1. Are public-private partnerships (e.g., consortia), in which government jointly funds projects with industry and often academia, a good mechanism to support new manufacturing technologies that are beyond the reach of individual firms? If not, why not?

2. Some advocate the expansion of the mission of the national laboratories to include R&D challenges relevant to a broad range of manufacturing industries. Is this an appropriate strategy? If not, why not?

3. At some federal agencies, an “innovation budget” is established to promote breakthrough discoveries. Should such a budget be established for advanced manufacturing technology? If not, why not?

Support for new manufacturing firms

4. Given the success of some government-industry-university innovation clusters, should the federal government take the lead in establishing additional clusters to support new manufacturing firms, in particular? If not, why not?

5. Should the federal government assist in the formation and advancement of small firms in the advanced manufacturing sector? If not, why not?

6. Do you believe that potentially valuable research at universities is not being fully utilized by industry?  If so, why does this occur, and should federal agencies increase the emphasis on translational research to address this issue? If not, why not?

Support for existing manufacturing firms

7. Should the federal government help form public-private partnerships to perform research on “horizontal,” cross-cutting technology platforms (e.g., modeling, simulation) that are essential, but beyond the reach of individual firms? If not, why not? 

8. Should the government generate an international benchmarking effort to compare US manufacturing infrastructures (i.e., technology platforms) with those of competing nations? If not, why not?

9. Should government, in partnership with industry, sponsor programs in manufacturing training and certification at community colleges, technical schools, and colleges to enhance the nation’s workforce? If not, why not?

A national manufacturing strategy

10. Should the President create a national science– and technology–based manufacturing strategy as a pillar of US economic policy? If not, why not? If so, which actions should have highest priority? Which of these are most cost-effective?

We invite your comments and in particular encourage you to be specific in your thoughts and proposals, providing empirical data and specific supporting examples whenever possible so this discussion can generate maximum practical value. You may want to start by reading a collection of papers prepared for PCAST (pdf) on the topic.

Importantly, this is a community-moderated blog. That means we count on you to keep the forum focused and on-topic—something you can do by “voting” on comments. Voting is an expression of how germane to the topic a comment is. Voting up a comment expresses approval of the relevance. If enough people vote down a comment, the comment in question “collapses” into a link so that it doesn’t interrupt the flow of discussion. Please read the complete Terms of Participation, where you can also learn how to “flag” comments such as spam or obscenities that violate the Terms.

We welcome your thoughtful comments in this open and participatory forum.

Deborah Stine is Executive Director of PCAST