One of the selling points for Boeing to come to South Carolina in 2009 was a strong technical school system, according to Tommy Preston, director of national strategy and engagement and government operations for Boeing S.C. He said that same technical school system will continue to support Boeing, as well as other advanced manufacturing in the state.
Cybersecurity has long been indispensable in finance, HR, government administration and other fields that depend heavily on data. Cybersecurity is now also pivotal to the most physical of economic sectors: manufacturing. While the recent ransomware strikes, including the “WannaCry” virus, garnered tremendous publicity for their impacts on commercial and government websites, one of the biggest impacts was on a physical manufacturer: a Honda plant in Japan was forced to halt production. This wasn’t unusual.
With more factory jobs now demanding education, technical know-how or specialized skills, many US plants are struggling to fill positions.
Manufacturing occupies a unique role in American society. It’s a proud point in the culture and a leading bipartisan priority for policymakers. According to recent studies, Americans want to see manufacturing jobs created in their communities more than jobs in any other sector. Still, according to the same studies, relatively few Americans personally want to work in manufacturing.
It’s no secret: The United States has lost nearly a third of its manufacturing employment since 2001. While the causes of this decline are numerous (and sometimes hotly debated), there’s widespread agreement on one fundamental factor: many large firms have zealously pursued offshoring strategies in recent decades because of an overriding focus on short-term metrics like unit price and direct labor cost.
New technologies and tools like desktop 3D printers, computer aided engineering software, and shared makerspaces haven’t just enhanced creativity and efficiency. They’ve sparked a quiet revolution. The Maker Movement — comprising inventors, programmers, designers, and tinkerers around the country — has already impacted how new products are designed and built, how regions approach economic development (PDF), and even how schools approach STEM education.
Start-ups are engines of innovation. From Facebook to SpaceX, inventive young organizations have revolutionized diverse sectors of the American economy. Today, new start-ups in the emerging Cleantech sector are creating novel innovations in wind, solar, fuel cells, bioenergy, geothermal, and vehicle technology that promise to reduce carbon emissions, increase energy independence, and create more affordable and reliable energy.
Regenerative Medicine has the potential to be a game-changer for patients who have damaged tissues or organs due to untreatable diseases, injuries, and congenital conditions. Lab-based innovations have shown great promise in restoring structure and function, but to deliver treatments to large numbers of patients in a clinical setting, new tools and technologies are needed. Regenerative Medicine is a new area of medical research that seeks to automate and scale-up the production and deployment of these groundbreaking solutions.
So why have we not seen the strong productivity growth we need? As explained in the recent ITIF e-book Think Like an Enterprise: Why Nations Need Comprehensive Productivity Strategies, there is solid research suggesting that the slowdown is not a cyclical phenomenon, nor is it because we are measuring output incorrectly.
For centuries, humans have been altering the genetic material of living organisms through selective breeding. Yet, today, these old practices are taking on fundamentally new meaning and consequence. Scientists are creating new DNA sequences from scratch in order to produce materials with potential to solve practical problems in diverse fields from medical treatment to energy production.