On Thursday, April 14, President Joe Biden traveled to Greensboro, North Carolina, to visit the campus of North Carolina A&T State University, a North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NCMEP) partner. The president met with faculty and students whose concentrations are in the cybersecurity and robotic fields before a new $90 million engineering research and innovation center tour. 

NC A&T State University is an incredible NCMEP asset. Our program partners in the department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) at NC A&T State University are well known for their innovative research, transformational teaching and learning and impactful community engagement. The department completes projects with local industry around topics including process improvement, ergonomics, in-plant logistics and layout. The ISE department has a long-standing capstone senior design project requirement for all Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering (BSISE) students, plus graduate student project requirements. The North Carolina manufacturing industry benefits from the student program by generating fresh, new approaches, innovative thought processes and delivering results that can be implemented in the manufacturing facilities.

The President’s 3 p.m. speech at the university touched on pushing America forward by investing in “Made in America” manufacturing, the present and future of American manufacturing and American innovation. The MEP National Network provides leadership and direct technical support to smaller manufacturers as science and technology developments become available to ensure long-term success in US manufacturing. The state NCMEP affiliate provides North Carolina manufacturers with the most relevant training and solutions to keep them competitive on the local, national and global scale.

The ten NCMEP program partners provide various solutions to assist North Carolina manufacturers throughout the state. Clients reported that NCMEP project solutions have helped to create or retain 20,698 jobs and generated more than $4 billion in economic impact over the last 3 years and include workforce development, business, growth and innovation, continuous improvement, supplier enhancement, sustainability and safety and technology acceleration. 

NCMEP also works diligently to help manufacturers adapt to fast-changing circumstances. NCMEP received $1.5 million in federal funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March 2020, and the organization immediately launched the Emergency Assistance Program (EAP). Through EAP, NCMEP provided grant-funded services to support North Carolina manufacturers’ ability to respond to the coronavirus across the state and improve competitiveness as the market adapted to the disruption. The economic impact results are still being generated but have totaled over $55,614,400 with 220 jobs created or retained so far.

As a member of the national organization of Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEP), NCMEP has taken steps to alleviate the supply chain crisis by participating in the MEP National Network’s Supplier Scouting program to assist North Carolina’s small and mid-sized manufacturers (SMMs) to find vendors who can provide parts and products in an effort to rebuild the backbone of the United States and North Carolina supply chains.

To help students who are interested in pursuing a career in manufacturing, NCMEP created and administers The Robotics/Automation and Cybersecurity Knowledge Sharing Coordination Network (TRACKS-CN). TRACKS-CN is an NSF-funded Advanced Technological Education (ATE) project. The coordination network aims to increase members’ understanding of the knowledge and skills required to operate and maintain connected machines in a manufacturing setting securely. Through virtual workshops, face-to-face events, and other modalities, this coordination network facilitates the sharing of information and best practices regarding technician education and training at the convergence of robotics/automation and cybersecurity.

One of NCMEP’s most direct ways of providing a collaborative, educational, inspirational and networking environment for North Carolina manufacturers is to host the annual MFGCON 22 event. On May 18-19, NCMEP is holding the premier yearly manufacturing conference, MFGCON 22, at the Durham Convention Center in Durham, North Carolina. The conference is designed to bring manufacturers together from across the state to share knowledge, network and be inspired through two days of 20 break-out sessions ranging in topics from workforce excellence, leadership and culture, operational excellence and technology, innovation and strategic growth. And to increase the incentive for North Carolina manufacturers to register early for MFGCON 22, there is a special conference price of $100 for the first 100 manufacturers* who register (use registration code EBMFG100 – for qualified manufacturers* only).

Any NC manufacturer can receive a free Competitive Business Review from NCMEP to determine how their manufacturing business strategies and operations can be optimized.  Please contact NCMEP at NC State IES to learn more.  NCMEP is dedicated to its mission to serve the manufacturers of North Carolina today and in the future. 

*See details at https://ncmep.org/mfgcon-22-limited-special-pricing/