The second annual symposium hosted by the Manufacturing@MIT Working Group took place on Tuesday, May 23. The symposium, titled &https://adarima.org/?aHR0cHM6Ly9tY3J5cHRvLmNsdWIvY2F0ZWdvcnJ5Lz93cHNhZmVsaW5rPWhkRmh1TVJrMld3QXBic0NhZGZFZUZsZ2lIbmlrYzNZeFZrbGtRV3BzU3pJMGRXVnNMMnBXU25KUlp6MDk-8220;Charting the Future of Production in a Time of Shifting Globalization,&https://adarima.org/?aHR0cHM6Ly9tY3J5cHRvLmNsdWIvY2F0ZWdvcnJ5Lz93cHNhZmVsaW5rPWhkRmh1TVJrMld3QXBic0NhZGZFZUZsZ2lIbmlrYzNZeFZrbGtRV3BzU3pJMGRXVnNMMnBXU25KUlp6MDk-8221; brought together experts and thought leaders to discuss various topics related to manufacturing, including the history of labor markets, the future of digital production, global supply chains, China&https://adarima.org/?aHR0cHM6Ly9tY3J5cHRvLmNsdWIvY2F0ZWdvcnJ5Lz93cHNhZmVsaW5rPWhkRmh1TVJrMld3QXBic0NhZGZFZUZsZ2lIbmlrYzNZeFZrbGtRV3BzU3pJMGRXVnNMMnBXU25KUlp6MDk-8217;s role, and effective regional initiatives.
One of the key themes that emerged from the symposium was the need for the United States to strengthen its manufacturing sector. Suzanne Berger, MIT Institute Professor of Political Science, argued that it&https://adarima.org/?aHR0cHM6Ly9tY3J5cHRvLmNsdWIvY2F0ZWdvcnJ5Lz93cHNhZmVsaW5rPWhkRmh1TVJrMld3QXBic0NhZGZFZUZsZ2lIbmlrYzNZeFZrbGtRV3BzU3pJMGRXVnNMMnBXU25KUlp6MDk-8217;s time for America to make things again, but in a different way. Berger stressed the importance of using automation and new tools to allow the country to be a leader in innovation. She highlighted the new burst of energy and enthusiasm for manufacturing at MIT and described it as a unique opportunity to create a new American production system.
Sir Michael Gregory, professor and founding director of the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge, emphasized the role that governments need to play in boosting manufacturing. He argued that governments shouldn&https://adarima.org/?aHR0cHM6Ly9tY3J5cHRvLmNsdWIvY2F0ZWdvcnJ5Lz93cHNhZmVsaW5rPWhkRmh1TVJrMld3QXBic0NhZGZFZUZsZ2lIbmlrYzNZeFZrbGtRV3BzU3pJMGRXVnNMMnBXU25KUlp6MDk-8217;t pick losers when it comes to industrial policy and that they should instead promote technology innovation and scaling. This would require major investments in workforce development and sustainability.
Yvonne Hao, Massachusetts Secretary of Economic Development, outlined the strengths of the state in terms of manufacturing. These strengths include a highly skilled workforce, a drive for clean energy solutions, and an entrepreneurial and collaborative mindset. Hao emphasized the need for Team Massachusetts to work together to lead in advanced manufacturing.
The symposium also highlighted the importance of fostering new and growing companies in order to create a strong industrial base. Panelists discussed their technologies and visions for scaling digital production. They also discussed the challenges they faced in scaling their organizations and becoming commercially successful. Martin Feldmann, co-founder of VulcanForms, stressed the need to build up the hardware process innovation and product innovation ecosystem to avoid fading into irrelevance.
Another key topic of discussion was the manufacturing workforce. David Autor, MIT Ford Professor of Economics, talked about the labor market for manufacturing and highlighted the labor scarcity resulting from low population growth, restrictive immigration, and large-scale retirement. He stressed the benefits of manufacturing jobs, such as the predictability of shift work that allows workers to plan their family lives outside of work. Maria Flynn, CEO of Jobs for the Future, argued for the need for a research institution focused on labor to address the issues raised by Autor.
The challenge of developing effective advanced manufacturing training programs and recruiting students to enroll in them was also discussed. Panelists emphasized the need to improve pK-12 STEM education and to provide broad-based apprenticeship opportunities and programs for upskilling the incumbent workforce. They stressed the importance of raising awareness about manufacturing careers among students.
The Manufacturing@MIT Working Group, which organized the symposium, has been working since early 2022 to unite MIT&https://adarima.org/?aHR0cHM6Ly9tY3J5cHRvLmNsdWIvY2F0ZWdvcnJ5Lz93cHNhZmVsaW5rPWhkRmh1TVJrMld3QXBic0NhZGZFZUZsZ2lIbmlrYzNZeFZrbGtRV3BzU3pJMGRXVnNMMnBXU25KUlp6MDk-8217;s manufacturing community and launch a major new initiative in manufacturing. The group sees the opportunity to build new programs and partnerships within and beyond MIT and to shape the future of production through technology innovation, industry partnerships, and engagement with the public sector.
Overall, the symposium highlighted the importance of strengthening manufacturing in the United States and the need for government support, industry collaboration, and investment in workforce development. It demonstrated the energy and enthusiasm for manufacturing at MIT and the role that MIT can play in shaping the future of production. The symposium also showcased the diverse technical talent and policy expertise at MIT and emphasized the need to revitalize production ecosystems in the face of multiple challenges.