PCAST Discusses Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships, Systems Engineering, and Innovation in China

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Publication date: 
16 May 2014

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) held a May 9 meeting during which they discussed advanced manufacturing partnerships, systems engineering as it relates to healthcare and the implications of Chinese advancements in science, technology, and innovation. 

Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and member of PCAST provided an update of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) 2.0 program.  The creation of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Program was a result of a PCAST report on advanced manufacturing the Partnership 2.0 program resulted from the original Advanced Manufacturing Program.  AMP 2.0 is aimed at addressing innovation and workforce issues and focuses on five areas including transformative manufacturing, demand-driven workforce development, national manufacturing institutes, scale up policies, and the image of manufacturing.  Jackson also spoke about public-private collaborations. 

The AMP 2.0 program considers workforce development as an ecosystem that spans from high school into workers in industry with a special focus on training for veterans and discussions about workforce issues were focused on online training and educational information technology.  Regarding the national network for manufacturing innovation, the program hopes to create at least 15 institutes funded by many agencies and departments within the federal government.  The first of these Institutes, the America Makes pilot institute in Ohio, other institutes have also been established nationally.  Other topics addressed by AMP 2.0 include intellectual property and corporate strategic funding. 

PCAST also discussed a recent report, Better Health Care and Lower Costs: Accelerating Improvement Through Systems Engineering, addressing healthcare costs which can be reduced as a result of changes relating to systems engineering.  The complexity of the U.S. healthcare includes many variables and challenges relating to quality and safety. 

Discussions about innovation in China were led by Kelly Gallagher, Director of the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts University and Denis Simon, Vice-Provost for International Strategic Initiatives at Arizona State University.  China is repositioning its science and technology international activities, stated Simon and he noted that China is realizing that money does not necessarily lead to innovation.  He also addressed China’s approach to intellectual property and national security.  China is the number two spender in research and development in the world but leaders in China are searching for ways to improve the results of these investments, he continued. 

Simon described China’s interest in collaboration and repositioning their economy is essential to their country’s development.  He suggested that the U.S. consider how we utilize our relationship with China for science and technology development and diplomacy. 

Gallagher spoke about China’s interest in energy and climate policy.  As China is trying to become more stable in its use of energy resource, its interests in clean energy have increased she stated.  Gallagher discussed the cross-border diffusion of clean energy technology.  China is setting carbon and energy targets and is seeking an “all of the above” approach to energy technology, she described. 

Following both speakers, PCAST exchanged views on use of clean energy in China. Nuclear energy, partnerships and immigration of entrepreneurs were also addressed.   PCAST heard about companies which have developed in China and the decisions within the U.S. about competing versus collaborating with these Chinese companies.  There was interest from many of the PCAST members to find an appropriate balance between the U.S. and Chinese collaboration, competition and use of science and technology resources.