ASME and AIChE Host Congressional Briefing on Advanced Manufacturing


Jan. 26, 2018


Karen Fletcher (far right), chief executive officer of RAPID Institute, addresses the attendees of the “Strengthening America’s Manufacturing Heartland” briefing on Dec. 14. Also participating in the briefing were (at table, left to right) AIChE President T. Bond Calloway, Thomas Hedberg of the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, Mark Gaalswyk of Easy Energy Systems, Billy Bardin from Dow Chemical Company, and ASME Congressional Fellow Andrew Bicos.

ASME recently convened a Congressional Briefing titled “Strengthening America’s Manufacturing Heartland” in partnership with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). The briefing, which took place Dec. 14, was held at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.

The briefing opened with remarks from June Wispelwey, executive director of AIChE, the lead organization for Manufacturing USA’s Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Institute. Wispelwey highlighted the important role the RAPID Institute plays in developing breakthrough technologies to boost energy production, as well as the importance of the Manufacturing USA program in enhancing domestic manufacturing capabilities to meet the nation’s goal of increasing energy production by 20 percent in five years.

ASME Congressional Fellow Andy Bicos, who serves in the office of Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY), moderated the event, which featured the following panelists: Karen Fletcher, chief executive officer of RAPID Institute; Billy Bardin, global operations technology director for Dow Chemical Company; Mark Gaalswyk, founder and chairman of Easy Energy Systems; Thomas Hedberg, co-leader of the Smart Manufacturing Systems Test Bed at the National Institutes of Standards and Technology; and T. Bond Calloway, president of AIChE and the associate laboratory director at Savannah River National Laboratory.


Mark Gaalswyk (at podium), founder and chairman of Easy Energy Systems, was one of the panelists discussing the importance of advanced manufacturing technologies and public-private partnerships, such as Manufacturing USA, to the future of American manufacturing.

During the briefing, the panelists discussed how innovative technologies are investments in the future of American manufacturing and the American Midwest — an area of the country that has been particularly hard hit by the decline in well-paid manufacturing jobs. They stressed that when businesses of all sizes from across the country work together on early-stage, pre-competitive research, they can overcome their toughest technology challenges and accelerate impact.

Each speaker touched upon the importance of working in partnership with academia and government, as such ventures unleash manufacturing efficiency and energy savings, streamline readiness and supply, improve flexibility, set standards, and develop a modern U.S. workforce.

A number of public-private partnerships, including Manufacturing USA, are convening companies, universities, industrial research organizations, and national laboratories to accelerate new technologies to increase U.S. competitiveness and secure America’s future.

Advanced manufacturing technologies are having an impact in a broad range of industries, including chemicals, oil and gas, composites, textiles, food, pharmaceuticals, and pulp and paper. As these advances continue to enable innovations in other fields, stakeholders are beginning the critical next step of developing and standardizing manufacturing best practices across industries, the panelists said.

Samantha Fijacko, ASME Government Relations