Dear Members and Friends,
I hope this letter finds you well despite the impact of COVID-19, both in your home and work life. We continue to work offsite except for a few essential staff in the Fab who are working on COVID-19 related projects. As infection rates stabilize and, hopefully, decline soon, we’ll be coordinating in lockstep with state, county and city guidelines to reopen the NextFlex Technology Hub safely in the coming months. Because of the continuing uncertainty around the timeline for re-opening and concerns from members about travel, we’ve opted to make our annual Innovation Week a virtual one August 4-6. We plan to hold many of the same activities including a Tech Council meeting, project demonstrations, and visionary speakers, all in a virtual environment that will continue to be a resource for members and the FHE community. To that end, we’ve formed an Advisory Group comprised of members and government partners to ensure that the Innovation Week virtual events meet member objectives. Let us know if you’d like to help and stay tuned for more information. We are excited about the possibilities this opportunity presents, now that we are no longer constrained by time and space!
The other big news announced this week is the expansion of our manufacturing workforce education activities with $5 million in funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Through the ONR Manufacturing Engineering Education Program (MEEP), the $5 million will support the development of eight new education programs modeled on NextFlex’s FHE-focused FlexFactor® program. Most programs will target K-12 students, with one program focused on 4-year university students. We’re delighted to be working with our sister institutes on this important expansion activity which will exponentially grow the number of young people we can introduce to the education and career pathways that lead to the Advanced Manufacturing sector!
Please keep us informed of impact you’re seeing on technology development and the business climate as we plan to get back to the new “normal.” Stay safe and best wishes.
Malcolm J. Thompson, PhD