To illustrate just how significant manufacturing is to the U.S. economy, three numbers alone tell the story.
The total output from American factories in 2014 was more than $2 trillion, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. Those factories employed more than 12 million workers earning salaries that are, on average, higher than in other sectors. And every dollar invested in manufacturing spurs an additional $1.81 in economic activity.
“This is why it’s so important for Georgia Tech to serve as a leader in manufacturing and spur innovation across the industry,” said Ben Wang, executive director of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI) and the Eugene C. Gwaltney Jr. Chair in Manufacturing Systems for the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. “Georgia Tech has the most complete collection of expertise in manufacturing in the country.”
From researching ways to produce large quantities of living cells for groundbreaking medical treatments to developing next-generation methods for repairing aircraft parts, Georgia Tech is at the forefront of innovation in the manufacturing sector. Part of that leadership is staying ahead of growing trends such as digital manufacturing, which has the potential to reshape the industry.
“There is no doubt that digital manufacturing will be a cornerstone for the next-generation entrepreneur by amplifying the value of innovation and accelerating new concepts into reality,” said Thomas R. Kurfess, professor and HUSCO/Ramirez Distinguished Chair in Fluid Power and Motion Control in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. “Already, digital manufacturing is enabling a robust and resilient industrial ecosystem that is driving the global economy.”
Another important factor behind Georgia Tech’s leadership in advanced manufacturing is its relationships with industry partners, which help keep researchers in tune with demands of modern factories.
“Strategic partnerships such as the Georgia Tech-Boeing Strategic University Partnership, which is focused on next-generation manufacturing technologies, play a crucial role in advancing our academic and research enterprise,” said Shreyes N. Melkote, Morris M. Bryan Jr. Professor of Mechanical Engineering for Advanced Manufacturing Systems. “In return, industry benefits from the ability to recruit a well-trained pool of students who are exposed to companies’ technology needs, as well as from the scientific knowledge and innovations produced by the academic researchers.”
It is through these types of partnerships that GTMI is positioning Georgia Tech to be at the center of industrial innovation in the years ahead. “Manufacturing is poised to grow substantially in the United States, and we want to be leading the manufacturing renaissance in this country,” Wang said.
Josh Brown is a senior science writer at Georgia Tech. A journalist by training, he’s spent the past decade writing about economic development, medical research, and scientific innovation.