Chancellor Plowman Welcomes America Makes, Celebrates UT’s Manufacturing Excellence
Chancellor Donde Plowman touted Tennessee as a destination for advanced materials and manufacturing and stressed the importance of research universities building innovation ecosystems during a meeting of more than 200 manufacturing industry leaders from across the country at UT Knoxville’s manufacturing research facility in Hardin Valley.
“As the state’s flagship land-grant university, UT Knoxville plays a critical role in leading our state into the future with innovation and workforce development,” Plowman said. “Research universities like UT are valuable partners who can bring together the forces that drive the innovation economy—people, place, and partnership.”
Plowman spoke at the annual Technical Exchange and Review event held by America Makes, a national coalition of manufacturing experts that brings together leaders in industry, academia, government, and workforce and economic development. The organization, founded in 2012, is part of the Manufacturing USA Network and is supported by the U.S. Department of Defense. It works to accelerate the adoption of advanced manufacturing and the nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness.
The event was held at TN MADE, a UT research facility operating as part of the Institute for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing and dedicated to advancing new technologies, supporting Tennessee companies, and developing the future workforce. UT is also home to IACMI, another Manufacturing USA Network organization, which is focused on advanced composite manufacturing and headquartered in Knoxville.
In her remarks, Plowman described the importance of the “three Ps” of innovation economy—people, place, and partnerships—and how UT Knoxville is bringing together the resources, talent, and relationships to capitalize on the university’s strength in advanced manufacturing and materials.
UT is educating the next generation of experts and equipping Tennessee’s workforce with the skills they need to fill the jobs of tomorrow, Plowman told the group. UT’s new College of Emerging and Collaborative Studies will be an incubator for new degree programs, allowing the university to partner with industries on new interdisciplinary curriculum and programs.
UT also provides companies with access to talent, including expert faculty and graduate students who lend their knowledge and creativity to solve critical problems in industry and society.
The university is growing its footprint to include spaces that cultivate creative collaboration, including the TN MADE building in Hardin Valley and the UT Research Park at Cherokee Farm, across the river from the main UT Knoxville campus.
Finally, partnerships are key to growing the regional ecosystem, and UT has deep relationships with industry leaders like Volkswagen and Eastman as well as national laboratories and government entities like Oak Ridge National Lab, Y-12 National Security Complex, and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
“When the forces of people, partnership, and place come together, incredible things happen,” Plowman said.