WASHINGTON, DC – The President has announced new steps with the private sector to strengthen the manufacturing sector, boost advanced manufacturing, and attract the good paying jobs that a growing middle class requires. The President announced the selection of a North Carolina headquartered consortium of businesses and universities, led by North Carolina State University, to lead a manufacturing innovation institute for next generation power electronics.
\After shedding jobs for a decade, our manufacturers have added 568,000 over the past nearly four years, including 80,000 over the past five months. Manufacturing production has grown since the end of the recession at its fastest pace in over a decade. The President is committed to building on that progress.
In last year’s State of the Union address, the President proposed a series of three new manufacturing institutes that the Administration can create using existing resources - this is the first of those institutes. In May, President Obama launched a competition for these three new manufacturing innovation institutes with a Federal commitment of $200 million across five Federal agencies – Defense, Energy, Commerce, NASA, and the National Science Foundation, building off the success of a pilot institute headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio. The additional two institutes led by the Department of Defense – focused on Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation and Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing – are still in the selection process and will be awarded in the coming weeks.
Each institute is designed to serve as a regional hub designed to bridge the gap between applied research and product development, bringing together companies, universities and other academic and training institutions, and Federal agencies to co-invest in technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S. This type of “teaching factory” provides a unique opportunity for education and training of students and workers at all levels, while providing the shared assets to help companies, most importantly small manufacturers, access the cutting-edge capabilities and equipment to design, test, and pilot new products and manufacturing processes.
The new manufacturing innovation institute announced today in North Carolina is focused on enabling the next generation of energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices by making wide bandgap semiconductor technologies cost-competitive with current silicon-based power electronics in the next five years. These improvements will make power electronic devices like motors, consumer electronics, and devices that support our power grid faster, smaller, and more efficient. The winning team, led by North Carolina State University, brings together a consortium of leading companies that included some of the world’s leading wide band gap semiconductor manufacturers, leading materials providers, and critical end-users like John Deere and Delphi with universities on the cutting edge of technology development and research, all in a vibrant and entrepreneurial region that can serve as the foundation for ongoing U.S leadership in this important technology. The Department of Energy is awarding $70 million over five years, matched by at least $70 million in non-federal commitments by the winning team of businesses and universities, along with the state of North Carolina.
This is another step forward toward fulfilling the President’s vision for a full national network of up to 45 manufacturing innovation institutes, which will also require legislation from Congress. In July 2013, Senators Brown (D-OH) and Blunt (R-MO) and Congressmen Reed (R-NY) and Kennedy (D-MA) co-sponsored bipartisan legislation in both the Senate and House that would create a network for manufacturing innovation led by the Department of Commerce consistent with the President’s vision, helping the United States to take advantage of this unique opportunity to accelerate growth and innovation in domestic production and create the foundation for well-paying jobs that strengthen the middle class.
Additional Background on the Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute:
The Next Generation Power Electronics Institute will provide the innovation infrastructure needed to support new product and process technologies, education, and training to become a global center of excellence for the development of wide bandgap semiconductor devices and industry-relevant processes. The DOE-supported manufacturing innovation institute’s headquarters will be located on North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus. The university will also host some of the institute’s shared research and development facilities and testing equipment, as well as workforce development and education programs.
In the last century, silicon semiconductors transformed computing, communication and energy industries, giving consumers and businesses more and more powerful devices that were once unimaginable. Today, as we reach the limits of silicon-based electronics for some critical applications, WBG semiconductors offer a new opportunity to jumpstart the next generation of smaller, faster, cheaper and more efficient power electronics for personal devices, electric vehicles, renewable power interconnection, industrial-scale variable speed drive motors and a smarter, more flexible grid.
The institute will provide shared facilities, equipment, and testing and modeling capabilities to companies across the power electronics supply chain, particularly small and medium-size manufacturers, to help invent, design and manufacture new semiconductor chips and devices. The institute will also pair chip designers and manufacturers with large power electronic manufacturers and suppliers, such as John Deere and Delphi, to bring these technologies to market faster and will offer training, higher education programs and hands-on internships that give American workers the skills for new job opportunities and meet the needs of this emerging and globally competitive industry.
Compared to silicon-based technologies, wide bandgap semiconductors can operate at higher temperatures and have greater durability and reliability at higher voltages and frequencies – ultimately achieving unprecedented performance while using less electricity. These technologies can reduce the size of consumer electronics like laptop adapters by 80% or the size of a power station to the size of a suitcase. By supporting the foundation for a strong wide bandgap semiconductor manufacturing base, the United States can lead in some of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets from consumer appliances and industrial-scale equipment to telecommunications and clean energy technologies – creating the well-paying jobs that support a growing middle class.
The winning consortium, led by North Carolina State University and headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, includes the State of North Carolina and:
18 Companies: ABB, APEI, Avogy, Cree, Delphi, Delta Products, DfR Solutions, Gridbridge, Hesse Mechantronics, II-VI, IQE, John Deere, Monolith Semiconductor, RF Micro Devices, Toshiba International, Transphorm, USCi, Vacon
7 Universities and Labs: North Carolina State [Lead], Arizona State University, Florida State University, University of California at Santa Barbara, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
Background on DOD-led Manufacturing Innovation Institutes:
Competitions continue for the two Department of Defense led manufacturing innovation institutes, which will be selected and awarded in the coming weeks. Those institutes will focus on technologies critical to the Department’s needs that also have broad commercial applications across different manufacturing industries that will help to drive U.S. leadership in the technologies and skills needed to encourage job-creating investment in the U.S. The two institutes are:
Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation: Advanced design and manufacturing tools that are digitally integrated and networked with supply chains can lead to 'factories of the future' forming an agile U.S. industrial base with significant speed to market advantage. A national institute focusing on the development of novel model-based design methodologies, virtual manufacturing tools, and sensor and robotics based manufacturing networks will accelerate the innovation in digital manufacturing increasing U.S. competitiveness.
Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing: Advanced lightweight metals possess mechanical and electrical properties comparable to traditional materials while enabling much lighter components and products. A national institute will make the U.S. more competitive by scaling-up research to accelerate market expansion for products such as wind turbines, medical devices, engines, armored combat vehicles, and airframes, and lead to significant reductions in manufacturing and energy costs.