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NextFlex News – October 2021

Greetings Members and Friends,

Each year, Manufacturing Day is held on the first Friday in October to show students, parents, and the public what modern manufacturing is all about. The fourth industrial revolution is rapidly changing our world, and new advanced manufacturing technologies bring about whole new careers that require a skilled workforce interested in pursuing them. Having long been the cornerstone of the American economy, manufacturing creates opportunities for highly skilled employees with highly paid jobs that create thriving communities. To celebrate, NextFlex unveiled a new video that takes a light-hearted approach in showing how fun it can be to create solutions to real-world problems using flexible hybrid electronics. Welcome remarks were presented by Dr. Elisabeth Reynolds, White House Special Assistant to the President for Manufacturing and Economic Development, Tracy Frost, Director, OSD ManTech and DoD Manufacturing Institutes, and Dr. Malcolm J. Thompson, NextFlex Executive Director. At the end of the program, students, and teachers from across the country were able to ask questions of the NextFlex engineers in a virtual breakout room. I recommend that you watch the NextFlex team “perform” in the Manufacturing Day video!

AFRL recognized NextFlex for their excellent work on the FHE Confined Space Monitoring device. The device, developed in collaboration with member Aptima-Sentinel Occupational Safety, was the most complex FHE device developed by the NextFlex team to date. Pictured at left are: (front row L to R) Patricia Beck, Principal Engineer, Process Technologies; Michael Avenell, Process Development Engineer; Thao Le, FHE Equipment & Process Engineer; Dr. Alex Cook, Engineering Manager, Process Technologies and Team Lead; Zander Brandt, FHE Design Engineer, Process Technologies, and (back row L to R) are: Jeff Bergman, Engineering Manager, System Design and Simulation; Robert McManus, Engineering Manager, Software & Test, and Fabian Schnegg, Fab Manufacturing Manager. Not pictured but also integral to the team are Padmaja Nagaiah, Test and Characterization Engineer, Software & Test; Conrad Salinas, Embedded Systems Engineer, Robotics & Automation; Michael Collins, Embedded Software Engineer, Software & Test; Dr. Michael Orrill, Mechanical Engineer, Robotics and Automation; Nathan Pretorius Prototyping and Automation Engineer, Process Technologies; Wesley Powell, Manufacturing Process Engineer, Ngu Lai, FHE Print Technician, and Michael Castro, FHE Assembly Technician. The plaque in the photo is made from the wing of a decommissioned Air Force C-130E transport aircraft and it will hang proudly in the NextFlex office. Congratulations, team!

Included in this newsletter is a summary report from our first in a series of Workforce Development Roundtables entitled, “Exploring the Complexity of Solving the STEM Learning and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Challenge.” This outstanding roundtable featured insightful comments by the Honorable Alex Lee, CA State Assembly, Karen Bradford, NASA Ames Research Center, Dr. Sarah Mastroianni, DuPont, Jeff Palin, Mission College, and Courtney Power, NextFlex. Moderated by Emily McGrath, NextFlex Director of Workforce Development, this panel delved into challenges and potential solutions for creating an inclusive STEM learning ecosystem that can lead to advanced manufacturing jobs in the future. The panel was excellent, and I encourage you to read the article and watch for the second installment of the series in 2022.

As always, thank you for your support and advice.


Malcolm J. Thompson, PhD
Executive Director