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NextFlex Convenes the Member Community March 28-29 to Stimulate New FHE Developments

NextFlex hosted the FHE community March 28-29 at the Technology Hub in San Jose, CA where 135 attendees from industry, academia, and government convened to provide technical updates on development projects, and to form collaborative teams for the eighth project call which launched the prior week. The workshop launched with an overview of PC 8.0 by Drs. Scott Miller and Nick Morris which will provide $4.4 million in funding for the development and adoption of FHE that addresses critical challenges in advanced manufacturing in support of DOD priorities. Attendees, both in person and virtually, spoke about project proposal ideas to help others find opportunities to collaborate on potential hybrid electronics projects.

Following a keynote from Dr. Frank Gayle, Deputy Director of the Office of Manufacturing at NIST who provided an update on the CHIPS Act, the workshop event continued with a panel moderated by Dr. Eric Forsythe, NextFlex Program Manager, ARL, entitled “Solutions for Department of Defense Needs.” Panelists included James Zunino, US Army DEVCOM; Elias Vainchenker, US Army, JPEO Ammo; Sam Gatley, New Jersey Institute of Technology; Dr. Ken Church, Sciperio/nScrypt; Gordon Hirschman, Vivonics, and Dr. Jason Foley, AFRL. The DoD panelists presented their views on how they are approaching integration of hybrid electronics into their programs and, specifically, how FHE is enabling their future capabilities. A focus on technology transitions described for industry and academic participants the process DoD uses when integrating new technologies to their portfolio and ultimately getting those technologies into the field. Panelists representing industry presented perspectives on technology transition, for FHE R&D, scale-up and volume production. Finally, the academic perspective focused on how they leverage relationships with DoD and their objectives for workforce development needs and solutions. The panel concluded with comments on how NextFlex can better assist its members in establishing and developing partnerships with DoD so that warfighters get capabilities they need.

A highlight of the workshop was the announcement of two new NextFlex Fellows. A NextFlex Fellow demonstrates exceptional commitment to the flexible and additive electronics member community in support of the NextFlex mission. This year’s Fellows are Zachary Kiehl, CEO & Founder of Sentinel, an important commercial partner and lead organization on a funded project through NextFlex. Zach has actively participated in important engagements with the Department of Defense, including as a thought leader panelist during an Education and Workforce Development Summit supported by the Department of Labor and the White House. Secondly, Emily McGrath, Senior Fellow and Director of Workforce Policy at the Century Foundation, formerly Director of Education and Workforce Development at NextFlex, was also recognized. In her new role at the Century Foundation, Emily’s span of influence has expanded to include policy development that will improve people’s lives in education, health care, and in the workplace. She will focus on workforce policy for the manufacturing sector, which will enable her to continue to work with NextFlex and the other Manufacturing USA institutes across the country.

The two-day workshop concluded with updates from the NextFlex team on technology and new revisions to the FHE manufacturing roadmaps, fab operations, engineering projects, and workforce development impact, including a call to action for the members to find ways to help young people discover the excitement awaiting them in careers in the advanced manufacturing sector, particularly in underserved communities. Seven NextFlex project updates provided by Northeastern University, Sentinel, Molex/SunRay Scientific, GE Research, The Boeing Company, and Lockheed Martin were presented with the goal of sharing learnings with the member community. Finally, members had the opportunity to present their technical capabilities to the community, which rounded out an intensive two days of technology updates.

If you are a NextFlex Member, you can view the presentations and videos from the event on the Member Portal.