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On Thursday, August 27, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Department of Energy Assistant Secretary David Danielson will visit the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation in Knoxville.

The visit is part of a two-day tour of the institutes that make up the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett will join Pritzker for portions of the day’s activities.

The group will tour the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility and National Transportation Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. UT is a key strategic partner of IACMI and led the proposal efforts with ORNL.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced the new institute in January during a visit to East Tennessee. The White House initiative aims to strengthen the global competitiveness of America’s manufacturing sector and the workforce. The NNMI now has six institutes, and three more are being formed.

The institutes bring together the private sector, universities, community colleges and local government, creating regional networks that translate promising discoveries into American-made products and encourage investment and production in the US. The activities supported by each institute also provide opportunities for small manufacturers to test their ideas, and for students and workers to learn about cutting-edge technologies.

“IACMI’s five application and technology areas are located in America’s manufacturing heartland to serve industry needs,” said Craig Blue, CEO of the institute. “IACMI’s state partners include the top five states for automotive employment and 70 percent of US automotive manufacturing.”

Using advanced composites manufacturing to make lighter weight vehicles is an important energy efficiency strategy in transportation. A 10 percent reduction in vehicle weight can improve fuel efficiency by 6 to 8 percent for vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines.

“The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation institutes help spur advanced technologies critical to keeping America innovative and competitive in the global economy,” said Pritzker. “Communities all over the country are clamoring for them because they represent a dynamic tool for spurring U.S. economic growth. The type of collaborative cutting-edge technologies that the NNMI promotes is essential to creating high-quality jobs and opportunity here at home.”

Making sure that workers, employers and suppliers in the US are able to stay ahead of the curve on the process is seen as crucial by industrial, academic and political leaders across the spectrum.

“The Department of Energy is proud to be a global leader in supporting advanced technologies for manufacturing clean energy products,” said Danielson. “Through the NNMI program, the DOE is applying its technical know-how to help ensure the United States remains the best place in the world to create, then manufacture, these technologies.”

While at the institute, Pritzker will tour the facility, meet with the leadership of the institute, and participate in a roundtable with business leaders and industry partners to discuss NNMI’s role in strengthening America’s economy and workforce.

“We look forward to working across the federal space in advancing President Obama’s manufacturing initiatives and bringing rapid innovations to the composites manufacturing space,” said Taylor Eighmy, UT vice chancellor for research and engagement and co-chair of IACMI’s board.

Pritzker has planned two other stops on her NNMI institute tour:

  • America Makes in Youngstown, Ohio, focused on helping the United States grow capabilities and strength in 3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing.
  • Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute in Chicago, focused on digital manufacturing and design, which is the ability to connect different parts of the manufacturing life cycle through data and then utilize that information to make smarter, more efficient business decisions.


Erin Chapin (865-974-2187,