Report from the Frontlines: RPI CATS Technology Showcase & Conference
This week, I had the opportunity to speak as part of digital manufacturing panel at the 2012 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Automation Technologies and Systems (CATS) Technology Showcase & Conference. CATS is set up as a way for industry to utilize the extensive pool of knowledge and expertise in science and technologies of automation resident at RPI.
This year’s event, “Partnership for Manufacturing Competitiveness” gathered leaders from industry, government and academia to discuss and see firsthand the industrially- relevant research present at Rensselaer CATS. Discussion focused on university-industry collaborations that are helping to re-invigorate manufacturing as a vital sector in the U.S. economy. And for the first time this year, CATS expanded the event to include technical conference sessions on Clean Tech Energy, Robotics in Manufacturing, High Performance Computing in Manufacturing, and Advanced Composites Manufacturing. A keynote was given by Mike Molnar, Chief Manufacturing Officer for the U.S. Department of Commerce.
As a respected voice in the area of Digital Manufacturing, NCMS was asked to provide a lay-of-the-land regarding manufacturers and the use of HPC. I was pleased to discuss our survey of SME’s and relay our findings that their lag in the adoption of digital manufacturing was due to challenges such as awareness, risk, and cost. Fortunately, I was able to highlight NCMS’ plan for Predictive Innovation Centers to address these barriers to entry. It was an excellent opportunity to educate the more than 200 participants on the importance of this technology and the need for a collaborative, strategic approach to aid in adoption.
As I finished my session, one of the other panel members from Corning approach me in order to point out the “missing middle” does not only consist of small and medium sized companies, sharing with me that Corning is one too! Fortunately, NCMS’ plan for wider adoption of Digital Manufacturing tools in the industry is quite scalable.