Bill would designate 25 universities as ‘Manufacturing Universities’

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) on March 18 joined four other U.S. senators to introduce bipartisan legislation that would designate 25 national universities as “Manufacturing Universities.”

The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015 would provide the universities $5 million per year for four years to better align educational offerings with the needs of modern manufacturers. The legislation is endorsed by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“As the demand for a highly skilled workforce continues to grow, I’m proud to support bipartisan legislation that ensures our universities offer courses that will help prepare students for our 21st century Made in Wisconsin manufacturing economy,” Baldwin said. “In Wisconsin, we can create stronger economic growth and shared prosperity for our state if we make investments in higher education and advanced manufacturing. This bipartisan legislation will give students the ability to carry on our Wisconsin tradition of making things and help us build a stronger middle class in Wisconsin and America.”

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology would be charged with designating the Manufacturing Universities. The incentives they receive would be used to meet specific goals, including focusing engineering programs on manufacturing, building new partnerships with manufacturing firms, growing training opportunities and fostering manufacturing entrepreneurship.

The program would be run by the director of the NIST, in coordination with the secretaries of Defense and Energy and the director of the National Science Foundation, among others.

“UWM has a long history of working with manufacturers throughout the state, helping them to stay competitive in our global economy,” said Tom Luljak, vice chancellor of university relations and communications for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “In particular, our efforts around advanced manufacturing, new lightweight materials and energy storage systems have benefited Wisconsin industries. We thank Sen. Baldwin for her leadership in advancing UW-Milwaukee’s ability to continue our strong partnerships with the industries that are such a crucial part of Wisconsin’s economy.”

Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) introduced the legislation with Baldwin.

In addition to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of Wisconsin-Madison, the legislation has been endorsed by more than two dozen universities and associations, including the Association of American Universities, the Precision Metalforming Association and the National Tooling & Machining Association.

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