Congressional Briefings/Events

ASME Partners with Congressional Robotics Caucus for Briefing on Autonomous Vehicles View

Nov. 3, 2017

(Far left) Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA), co-chair of the Congressional Robotics Caucus, provided opening remarks at the recent briefing on autonomous vehicles. Also taking part in the briefing were (at the table, left to right) moderator Said Jahanmir, president-nominee of ASME, Joe Jarzombek of Synopsys Inc., Chuck Thorpe of Clarkson University and chair of the ASME Robotics Public Policy Task Force, Constantine Samaras of Carnegie Mellon University, and Finch Fulton from the Transportation Policy Office of the Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy.

ASME recently partnered with the Robotics Caucus Advisory Committee and the Congressional Robotics Caucus to convene a briefing for Congressional staff on the anticipated arrival and integration of automated vehicles (AVs) into the United States’ transportation infrastructure. 

The Congressional Robotics Caucus, chaired by Congressman Rob Woodall (R-GA) and Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA), focuses on issues facing the robotics industry, including technological as well as legal and regulatory challenges. Both Congressmen Woodall and Doyle addressed the audience during the event, which took place Oct. 24 in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, and shared their excitement for the economic and societal benefits AV technology will provide, while also expressing their commitment to addressing policy concerns. The briefing was co-hosted by IEEE-USA and Carnegie Mellon University, who are members of the Robotics Caucus Advisory Committee along with ASME.

(Left to right) Congressman Rob Woodall (R-GA) speaks with ASME President-Nominee Said Jahanmir at the Congressional briefing on autonomous vehicles. Congressman Woodall also delivered opening remarks at the event, which was held Oct. 24.

In addition to hearing from the Caucus co-chairs, Deputy Assistant Secretary Finch Fulton spoke to the role of the Federal government in integrating automated vehicles. He remarked that the U.S. Department of Transportation recently released new guidelines for automated driving systems in “A Vision for Safety 2.0,” and is already working on version 3.0 to be released in 2018.

After the opening remarks, incoming ASME President-Nominee Said Jahanmir, Ph.D., moderated the panel session featuring experts who provided their insights on where the government should play a role and what issues the government should be addressing proactively. Panelists included Chuck Thorpe, Ph.D., chair of the ASME Robotics Public Policy Task Force and dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Clarkson University; Constantine Samaras, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University; and Joe Jarzombek, global manager of the Software Integrity Group at Synopsys Inc.

A crowd of 86, primarily consisting of Congressional staffers, attended the briefing at the Rayburn House Office Building’s House Transportation and Infrastructure Hearing Room.

The speakers offered insightful remarks on the specific challenges the government must be thinking about while researchers and industry race towards full AV integration. During the event, it became clear that while the benefits automated vehicles promise are vast, AVs face major societal obstacles as they are integrated into society, such as how to deter malicious activities aimed at connected vehicles, where and to what extent the technology should be utilized, and how to prepare a sufficient infrastructure that moves at the same pace as the technology. All of the panelists noted that it is necessary for policymakers to consider these far-reaching impacts as technologists continue to improve and innovate AV capabilities.

To learn more about the Congressional Robotics Caucus, visit

- Samantha Fijacko, Government Relations



A video recording of the ASME Congressional briefing on the Department of Defense’s Manufacturing Engineering Education Grant Program held July 25, 2017, 12:00pm-1:30pm| at the Capitol Visitors Center, SVC 212-10 is now available for viewing. Please visit the House Manufacturing Caucus’ YouTube page at, and additional information can be found on the House Manufacturing Caucus’ website at


The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) established the “Manufacturing Engineering Education Grant Program,” thereby authorizing the Defense Department to support industry-relevant, manufacturing-focused, engineering training at U.S. institutions of higher education, universities, industry, and nonprofit institutions. Grantees are selected through a competitive process on the merits of better aligning their educational offerings with the needs of modern U.S. manufacturers.

This new program has great potential to strengthen national security and increase economic competitiveness by improving and modernizing the U.S. industrial base. Through this program, students, technologists, and manufactures will be better equipped to manufacture U.S. military equipment and technology domestically, protecting and securing the future of the American Warfighter. The Manufacturing Engineering Education Grant Program will not only strengthen the U.S. military’s capabilities, but will also allow the U.S. to compete against other nations economically as well.

In the area of advanced manufacturing, the U.S. is currently competing commercially against a range of European and Asian nations for global innovation advantage in areas of advanced manufacturing. Countries such as Germany and Austria, who dedicate a larger percentage of their economy to manufacturing (23% and 19% respectively) than the United States (12%) are pursuing several workforce development initiatives that call for revamping engineering curriculum and workforce training opportunities to better align manufacturing and engineering education more closely with the current and future needs of industry.


Said Jahanmir, ASME President-nominee


Tom Kurfess, ASME Manufacturing Public Policy Task Force. Co-Chair; Professor and HUSCO/Ramirez Distinguished Chair in Fluid Power and Motion Control, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech; Former Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President of the United States of America


  • Brennan Grignon, Program Director, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Stephen Ezell, Vice President, Global Innovation Policy, ITIF (Information Technology and Innovation Foundation)
  • Laurie Leshin, President, WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
  • Laine Mears, Professor & BMW SmartState Chair of Automotive Manufacturing Clemson University
  • Denise Peppard, Corporate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Northrop Grumman Corporation



The House Manufacturing Caucus recently asked the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) to brief them on the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program, a program which the Trump Administration proposed to eliminate in its FY18 budget. The briefing focused on how the program delivers value to the economy and national security of the United States through the services it provides to small- and medium-sized U.S. manufacturers.

The most recent statistics on MEP performance, based on 2016 data, were presented to the audience at the briefing. According to this data, a new study by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research found that when applying the most conservative methods of measuring, the MEP program sees 8.71 return on investment to the U.S. taxpayer, which is significantly higher than most federal programs. According to the data, this means that the $130 million MEP program offers a return of $1.13 billion to the U.S. treasury—a net profit of over $1 billion to U.S. taxpayers.

The event was comprised of panels of economic and manufacturing experts, including representatives from individual state MEPs, MEP clients, and a representative from the Upjohn Institute. Some of the client companies focused their remarks on how a decline in MEP funding could negatively affect the national security of the U.S., offering what happened to the defense budget during sequestration as an example. During sequestration, military supply chain manufactures were hit hard by the downturn in funding. As a result, one Virginia-based company, Morphix Technologies, had to lay off 2/3 of its workforce, shifting from 60 employees to 20, and of those 20, those on the management team took no salary while they were working to protect the survival of the company. Morphix Technologies began working with GENEDGE, the Virginia MEP, and together they were able to develop a plan and identify gaps they needed to fill in order to get to new markets and survive as a company. Today, Morphix Technologies is alive and thriving as a result of their work with the Virginia MEP.

At the briefing a Rhode Island-based company, Goetz Composites, whose work with POLAIRS, the Rhode Island MEP, helped the company stay competitive in a time of mass-unemployment in the state. The MEP helped Goetz Composites to understand and manage risk by identifying which of their employees needed specific types of training, and where there were gaps that needed to be filled. As a result of these efforts, the company was able to hire 50 people in the past 2 years, 80% of which filled advanced manufacturing jobs. Additionally, of those advanced manufacturing jobs, 70% were filled by someone with no past manufacturing experience, and a majority were filled by individuals who had been previously underemployed or unemployed.

The MEP program works with small companies that are not able to invest in the type of services that MEP provides due to the very real financial and personnel constraints these small companies face. Yet, these companies are vital to the economic well-being and security of the United States. Eliminating MEP could harm our small and medium manufacturers, and thereby negatively affect our domestic supply chains capabilities, particularly in the area of national defense. As an example of the importance of small companies in the supply chain, the Rhode Island MEP representative shared that 95% of manufacturing companies in the state have less than 100 employees, and 74% have only 10-19 employees.

The briefing was recorded and ASME Government Relations will make the recording available once it has been posted.

To view the new report by the Upjohn Institute on "The National-Level Economic Impact of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)," please visit:

To view the video, please visit:



On December 13, 2016, a Congressional Briefing on “Advanced Robotics in Manufacturing” was held in the Senate. Moderating the panel was Chuck Thorpe, Senior Vice President and Provost of Clarkson University and Co-Chair of the ASME Robotics Public Policy Task Force.

The four panelists included:

  • Howie Choset, Carnegie Mellon University, Professor of Robotics; Medrobotics, Inc., Co-Founder
  • Larry Sweet, Georgia Institute of Technology, IRIM Associate Director of Technology Transition and Professor of the Practice in Robotics
  • Erik Nieves, PlusOne Robotics, Founder and CEO
  • Michael Dudzik, IQM, President

The briefing began with opening remarks delivered by Senator Chris Coons, a Co-Chair of the Senate Competitiveness Caucus. Senator Coons posed a few questions to the panelists to encourage discussion around how we can rise above the challenges facing the industry today, such as: What does the future of employment in the manufacturing industry look like and what does robotics in manufacturing mean for manufacturing jobs? How do we deal with cyber security as more elements of our manufacturing infrastructure rely on robotics? And how do we help small and medium-sized companies succeed with, and adapt to, new technologies? The Senator announced that he believes we have reason for optimism moving forward, citing the Manufacturing USA and Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEP) initiatives as opportunities for increased success in the coming year.

Moderator Chuck Thorpe formally set the stage, informing the audience as to how robots are changing the manufacturing environment. He mentioned that we used to think of the words dangerous, dull, and disappearing when we thought of manufacturing. Now, however, we think of three new Ds: (1) Dexterous: Robots can reach places and perform tasks that humans simply cannot or should not. For instance, robots today can reach into the ribs of an airplane wing, as well as the ribs of a cardiac patient. (2) Deeply integrated: Today, robotic technologies are built into the systems themselves. Smart systems don’t look like robots, they look like cars and cranes and other things, which the robotics are simply integrated into. (3) Disappearing…I Don’t Think So: New robotic technologies are encouraging new skills and jobs to arise. Thorpe ended with the idea that for further advancement, robotics needs mechanical engineering, and mechanical engineers need robotics, a connection that is often overlooked.

The first panelist to present was Howie Choset, who spoke to the relationship between robotics and jobs. He has a background in working with “snake robots” – highly flexible systems to go into very small places. Howie believes that flexibility, both in the robot structures and their skill, is the key to advancing the industry. Robotic systems are expensive and 98.5% of manufacturers in the U.S. are small- or medium-sized manufacturers who do not have the capital to invest in technology that cannot adapt to future changes. Howie also mentioned that paired with this idea of flexible robots is the need for flexible job training. Panelist Larry Sweet agreed with this point, and then spoke about the increased need for collaborative robotics.

Larry has observed that many manufacturers see the opportunity to grow if automation becomes more flexible. The key, he notes, is to balance the risk of adopting new technologies with opportunity which can be achieved through making systems more flexible for increased productivity. Collaborative robots, flexible robots, and mobile robots are all new types of technologies that will inject flexibility into the system, prompting innovation and increased productivity. Today, robots and humans are co-habiting manufacturing floors, but working separately. In order to advance, humans and robots, Larry suggests the need for the two to work together so that they can each preform the tasks the other cannot at the same time, on the same product.

Erik Nieves, an Industrial Robotics Engineer, spoke further about the impact of robotics on the small manufacturer. Most manufacturing that employs robots today is low-mix, high-volume production, meaning building the same thing over and over. Robots are extremely good at repetitive tasks, but they need to become better at doing high-mix, low-volume production. Erik noted that three-fourths of our industrial base is 20 employees or less, meaning the main place for growth in robotic manufacturing is with small companies.




Recently, ASME held a Congressional briefing on “Advanced Manufacturing: Communities: Encouraging Innovation and Building the Advanced Manufacturing Economy of The future.” The briefing was attended by over 100 Members of Congress, Congressional Staff, Agency Officials, and thought leaders, filling the room and spilling into the hall. The briefing was convened in conjunction with the House Manufacturing Caucus as part of a series of manufacturing briefings being held throughout the year.

Bob Sims, Past President of ASME, welcomed the audience and introduced the Co-Chairs of the Manufacturing Caucus, Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Tom Reed (R-NY). The Co-Chairs gave opening remarks focusing on the key role that advanced manufacturing plays in maintaining and improving the strength of the U.S. economy and highlighted Congress’s role in ensuring proper investments in this field.

The briefing consisted of a panel of experts, including:

  • Nicholas M. Donofrio, IBM Fellow Emeritus; IBM Executive Vice President Innovation and Technology (Ret.); and Recent Chair of the National Academy of Engineering’s Study Committee on Making Value for America: Embracing the Future of Manufacturing, Technology, and Work.
  • Nam P. Suh, Former President of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST); Former Director of the Park Center for Complex Systems (formerly the Manufacturing Institute) and the Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT; Received the ASME Medal for Distinguished Mechanical Engineering Achievements and nine honorary degrees.
  • Deborah Wince-Smith, President and CEO of the United States Council on Competitiveness; Former Assistant Secretary for Technology Policy in the United States Department of Commerce.
  • Tom Kurfess, Professor and HUSCO/Ramirez Distinguished Chair in Fluid Power and Motion Control, Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech; Former Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President of the United States of America; Co-Chair of the ASME Manufacturing Public Policy Task Force.
  • Steve Schmid, Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, The University of Notre Dame; Former Assistant Director for Research Partnerships in the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); Co-Chair of the ASME Manufacturing Public Policy Task Force.

The purpose of the event was to bring to light the grand future we see for advanced manufacturing in the United States. The discussion focused on innovative solutions that can only be realized with the support of public-private partnerships that encourage the formation of manufacturing communities: places where universities, companies, and local governments work together to promote manufacturing education and innovation. Manufacturing communities work to drive education and training, which can then create a comprehensive innovation ecosystem and skills-pipeline that can only exist in these areas where modern manufacturing is being touted and pursued.

Panelists Michael Dudzik also provided a voice for small companies. He shared that robots come to the manufacturing floor first and foremost because of the business case and not because of technology for technology’s sake. He noted that adopting robotic technology needs to be a good return on investment for a small company that has limited capital to invest. Michael says that this is the reason why robots today need to be agile and flexible, echoing the speakers coming before him for increased flexibility in both our robotic systems and our workers. Dudzik suggests that Congress can help advance robotics by implementing policies that help accelerate the robotics ecosystem in the U.S. so that the U.S. manufacturing base can be more competitive globally.



On Tuesday, May 10, 2016 ASME & IEEE-USA hosted a Congressional briefing title “Exploring the Nexus of Food and Advanced Manufacturing for American Competitiveness, Food Safety, and Global Security,” along with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of California-Davis, and the Georgie Institute of Technology. The briefing was convened as part of an ongoing dialog among universities and stakeholders in an effort to educate lawmakers on the issues surrounding food. Tim Wei, Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Outreach at ASME, opened the briefing by sharing an overview of work done so far to meet the challenges we’re facing as a nation.

The first panelist to speak was Jeff Korengel, former Vice President of Process R&D-Technical Commercialization for ConAgra Foods. Korengel shed light on why food security is an important policy concern the U.S., despite the appearance that it’s a non-issue. While the U.S. has seen great progress in the areas of food safety, affordability, quality, and convince in the past decade, security in each of these areas remains fragile. Past accomplishments are taken for granted and mask the remaining challenges we face, including population growth, the expanding middle class, climate change, sustainable fuels, lower efficiency farming trends, and water availability. Manufacturing innovation has played a key role in overcoming past hurdles and will continue to play a vital role as we work to address future threats to the system.

The second panelist was Theodore Lioutas, Principle and CEO of Lioutas Global Group, LLC and former Chief Innovation, Quality, Science, and Technology Officer at McCain Foods Ltd. Lioutas further addressed the challenges we see with food security and safety, pointing to recent real-life crises, including the unusually high number and diversity of food recalls we have seen in recent years along with the vast food waste we see despite growing food demand globally. These challenges can only be overcome through innovation in engineering and science, which will work to fill the technology gaps so that the industry can meet new and growing consumer demands. Major areas for growth include: automation/robotics, modular manufacturing and packaging lines, and big data analytics. We are already beginning to see the ideas of the future come to life in 3D farming techniques and faster, more accurate processing, leading to better sanitation, worker safety, and customization.

The third and final panelist was Ronnie Green, Chancellor Elect of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and former Vice President and Harlan Vice Chancellor of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Green spoke about the importance of water and its huge effect on sanitation, He also discussed how building data into the system can dramatically change how we are able to manufacture food. Green touched on the vital need for government involvement in addressing these challenges, as much of what needs to be done must happen in a pre-competitive environment due to the extremely tight margins that exist in the industry.



On October 20, 2015 ASME cosponsored a Congressional briefing, “Building STEM Education Pipeline Aligned with Industry Needs: Perspectives from the Field” in partnership with the Council of Undergraduate Research (CUR) (lead), American Chemical Society (ACS), Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and the Computing Research Association (CRA). The briefing, held in conjunction with the House STEM Education Caucus, focused on ways that colleges and universities can creatively engage students in the STEM fields and bridge the gap between education and careers in the field. Panelists focused on initiatives at the two-year and four-year college levels as well as the graduate and doctoral levels.

Moderated by Dr. Beth Ambos, Executive Officer at CUR, the panelists included: Dr. Nancy Amato, Texas A&M University; Dr. Collins Jones, Montgomery College; and, Dr. Oscar Barton Jr., George Mason University.

Amato stressed the importance of mentoring and diversifying computing. She spoke about K-12 and undergraduate students tinkering, and participating in hands-on competitions, like FIRST Robotics, to get them excited and interested in STEM. She made a strong point that diversity drives innovation. Last week, Amato was named one of the TOP 25 Women in Robotics:

Jones agreed and also discussed the importance of training and preparing students for a STEM career. He discussed the Biotech Program he runs at Montgomery College. A surprising demographic he pointed out was 60 percent of his students already have BS or MS degrees. While most of these students are already employed in the Biotech Industry, there are many opportunities for students and meeting workforce needs for the Biotech Industry. Barton, who chairs ASME’s Committee on Engineering Accreditation and serves as a Commissioner of ABET, echoed the need for hands-on problem solving. He encourages all of his students to think of problems they can solve to improve their lives through engineering. He said, “We need to change the STEM Pipeline, starting with who we recruit to enter and where they enter the engineering field.” He introduced ASME’s Vision 2030 as a solution to address some of these issues around ME degree programs and industry needs.

All the panelists agreed that two-year colleges need to feed more into four-year institutions. Change needs happen in how we define success for undergrads, it’s more than just becoming a PhD. Finally, they felt corporate engagement should come earlier, capturing industry in the first or second year of engineering to help encourage and retain students in later years. Changing the picture of STEM involves more focus on critical thinkers and problem solvers than exact STEM courses themselves.

For more information about this ASME-related activity, including photos from the event, please visit the ASME_FutureME twitter page.