Ensuring Manufacturing USA Reaches Its Potential
President Biden made advanced manufacturing a major policy priority during his campaign, including calling for a significant expansion of manufacturing programs to reach 50 communities through new manufacturing-technology hubs. Expanded manufacturing programs will invest in our nation’s long-term competitive innovation capacity. However, building these programs successfully requires a thoughtful and practical implementation plan. This memo presents two categories of recommendations to improve the U.S. advanced-manufacturing ecosystem:
1. Improve the existing Manufacturing USA institutes. Some new institutes are needed, but the Administration should concentrate first on strengthening support for the 16 existing Manufacturing USA Institutes, renewing the terms of institutes that are performing well, and expanding the reach of those institutes by launching more workforce-development programs, regional technology demonstration centers, initiatives to engage small- and mid-sized manufacturers and build regional manufacturing ecosystems.
2. Implement a multi-part strategy for collaboration among the Institutes: First, the Administration should create a “network function” across the Manufacturing USA Institutes because firms will need to adopt packages of manufacturing technologies not just one at a time. This could be supported by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and would combine the advances of different Institutes and package them to be integrated and interoperable for easy adoption by firms. Second, a NIST-led traded-sector-analysis unit should be created to evaluate the manufacturing progress of other nations and inform Institute priorities. Third, the Administration should provide research and development (R&D) agencies with resources to build manufacturing-related R&D feeder systems (e.g., an expanded pipeline of manufacturing technologies) that aligns with Institute needs. Fourth, the administration should establish an Advanced Manufacturing Office within the White House National Economic Council to coordinate and champion all of the above, as well as numerous other manufacturing programs.
An Institute for Scalable Heterogeneous Computing
The future of computing innovation is becoming more uncertain as the 2020s have brought about a pivot point in the global semiconductor industry. We owe this uncertainty to several factors, including the looming end of Moore’s Law, disruptions in semiconductor supply chains, international competition in innovation investment, a growing demand for more specialized computer chips, and the continued development of alternate computing paradigms, such as quantum computing.
In order to address the next generation of computing needs, architectures are beginning to emphasize the integration of multiple, specialized computing components. Within this framework, the U.S. is well poised to emerge as a leader in the future of next-generation computing, and more broadly advanced semiconductor manufacturing. However, there remains a missing link in the United States’ computing innovation strategy: a coordinating organization which will down-select and integrate the wide variety of promising, next-generation computing materials, architectures, and approaches so that they can form the building blocks of advanced, high-performance, heterogeneous systems.
Armed with these facts, and using the existing authorization language in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Biden Administration and Congress have a unique opportunity to establish a Manufacturing USA Institute under the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with the goal of pursuing advanced packaging for scalable heterogeneous computing. This Institute will leverage the enormous body of previous work in post-Moore computing funded by the federal government (Semiconductor Technology Advanced Research Network (STARnet), Nanoelectronics Computing Research (nCORE), Joint University Microelectronics Program (JUMP), Energy-Efficient Computing: From Devices to Architectures (E2CDA), Electronics Resurgence Initiative (ERI)) and will bridge a key gap in bringing these R&D efforts from the laboratory to real world applications. By doing this, the U.S. will be well positioned to continue its dominance in semiconductor design and potentially regain advanced semiconductor manufacturing activity over the coming decades.
Doubling the R&D Capacity of the Department of Education
Congress is actively interested in ensuring that the United States is educating the talent needed to maintain our global economic and national security leadership. A number of proposals being considered by Congress focus on putting the National Science Foundation’s Education division on a doubling path over the next 5-7 years.
This memo recommends that the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) — the R&D agency housed within the Department of Education — be put on the similar doubling path with stepladder increases in authorization levels, and targeted program starts (e.g., an “ARPA” housed at ED) focused on major gaps that have been building for years but made even more evident during the pandemic.
This increased funding for IES should be focused on:
• Establishing New Research Capacity in the form of an  “ARPA-like” Transformative Research Program;
• Harnessing Data for Impact through investments in  Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS),  a Learning Observatory, and  modernization of the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP);
• Conducting Pathbreaking Data-Driven Research by  building a permanent Data Science Unit within IES,  increasing funding for special education research; and  investing in digital learning platforms as research infrastructure; and
• Building the Education Field for Deployment of What Works by  establishing a Center of Learning Excellence for state-level recovery investments in tutoring and more.