Baldwin Joins Bipartisan Effort to Designate “Manufacturing Universities”

Legislation endorsed by UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee would bolster schools’ focus on advanced manufacturing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) joined Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) to introduce bipartisan legislation to help schools strengthen their engineering programs and meet the growing demands of 21st century manufacturing. The bill would designate 25 universities as “Manufacturing Universities” and provide incentives to better align educational offerings with the needs of modern manufacturers. The incentives would be used to bolster universities’ efforts to focus on manufacturing engineering and curricula specifically related to targeted industries. The legislation is endorsed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015 would establish a program within the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) charged with designating 25 schools as ‘Manufacturing Universities.’ Designated schools would receive $5 million per year for four years 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.

“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,” said Senator Baldwin. “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 Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015 is a bipartisan bill that highlights the important role public research universities like the University of Wisconsin-Madison can play in helping grow our economy, and create new, high-paying jobs,” said Dean Ian M. Robertson, University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering. “We at UW-Madison, College of Engineering have remained international leaders in advanced manufacturing research and have recently launched initiatives in this research area. This bill provides important new incentives that could allow us to expand and strengthen those initiatives for our students and industry partners. We applaud the bipartisan group of senators for their work on this important piece of legislation.” 

"UWM has a long history of working with manufacturers throughout the state, helping them to stay competitive in our global economy,” said Vice Chancellor Tom Luljak, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee University Relations and Communications. “In particular, our efforts around advanced manufacturing, new lightweight materials and energy storage systems have benefited Wisconsin industries. We thank Senator 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."

This bipartisan legislation has been endorsed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the Precision Metalforming Association, the National Tooling & Machining Association, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Clemson University, University of South Carolina, University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Drexel University, the University of Missouri System, the University of Illinois, the University of California, Davis, the University of California, Irvine, Boston University, the University of Rochester, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the State University of New York (SUNY) System, Kent State University, Dow, DuPont, and Siemens.