ASME Virtual Town Hall with Dr. Walter Copan Discusses Industries of the Future, COVID-19 Response, and ASME-NIST Collaboration
Sep 21, 2020
ASME’s Executive Director/CEO Tom Costabile recently hosted a Virtual Town Hall conversation with Dr. Walter Copan, Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Under Secretary of Commerce for Science and Technology. Discussion included American competitiveness in the Industries of the Future (IotF), advanced manufacturing and supply chain security, and NIST’s collaborative response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Copan described NIST, which will be celebrating its 120th anniversary in March 2021, as “America’s innovation agency whose mission is to promote U.S. innovation and, importantly, industrial competitiveness, by advancing measurement science standards and technology in ways that enhance our economic security and improve our quality of life.” In fields ranging from additive manufacturing and new materials to collaborative robots and biomanufacturing, NIST strives to support the nation’s manufacturing industries. Through its Manufacturing USA Institutes—in partnership with the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce—NIST works to “bridge the valley of manufacturing technology readiness in order to prepare new technologies for deployment” in manufacturing systems across the nation.
NIST’s leadership has been instrumental in supporting the nation’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. In conjunction with the Patent Trademark Office, the Federal Laboratory Consortium, and the Association of University Technology Managers (among others), NIST worked to aggregate pandemic-related technologies that are available for licensing in order to make them accessible to manufacturers and innovators across the nation. As part of the CARES Act, the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) provided $50 million in funding to support manufacturing across the nation.
Dr. Copan also emphasized the longstanding partnership between ASME and NIST, commenting that he is grateful for ASME’s “strong voice and collaboration with [NIST] and partnerships with the other engineering societies to seek the greatest collective impacts. The Congressional briefings that ASME provides related to advanced manufacturing and other topics [are] very important in continually informing congressional staff and leadership about the importance and the impact of scientific R&D, standards, the translation into advanced manufacturing, and indeed, the deployment of other advanced technologies.”
Following his remarks, Dr. Copan fielded questions on AI biases and trustworthiness, quantum computing, and barriers to federal technology transfers.