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Indian-American to lead US manufacturing ‘think-and-do’ tank

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New York: An Indian-American engineering professor will lead a US consortium to identify emerging advanced manufacturing technologies to enhance the country’s innovation ecosystem, manufacturing competitiveness and national security, the White House has announced.

Sridhar Kota, director of the Institute for Manufacturing Leadership at University of Michigan, will lead MForesight: The Alliance for Manufacturing Foresight, the White House said on Friday.

“‘Foresight’ is the key word. In this ‘think-and-do’ tank, we will identify emerging technologies early on so the nation can invest public and private sector dollars in a way that builds the infrastructure, knowledge and workforce skills needed to anchor manufacturing technology in this country,” Kota said.

“With collective access to over 30,000 subject matter experts across a wide range of industries, MForesight will serve as a continuous mechanism for research coordination across the public and private sectors,” he added.

The group will examine a broad range of technologies. It could, for example, investigate how to cost-effectively improve quality control in drug-making in order to reduce shortages in certain cancer medications.

It could explore how best to manufacture emerging platform technologies such as flexible electronics, which have a wide variety of applications in places like consumer goods, defence and even health care.

Technologies will be evaluated based on economic impact, job growth, likelihood of co-investment by the private sector, impact on multiple industry sectors, and the likelihood of the US gaining a first-mover advantage, among other criteria.

“Engineering and scientific advancements based on fundamental research have been the main drivers of US economic growth over the past half century,” said France Cordova, director, US National Science Foundation (NSF).

“Thanks to innovative technologies enabled by manufacturing research, production has grown at its fastest pace in more than a decade, creating significant economic value for the nation. To continue to reap these benefits, we must seek new research frontiers for manufacturing and pursue them for high-impact US manufacturing innovation and economic competitiveness,” Cordova noted.

Kota, a mechanical engineering professor and entrepreneur, served as assistant director for advanced manufacturing at the White House from 2009 to 2012.

He helped to create President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership in 2011 and the Manufacturing Innovation Institutes in 2012.

The National Science Foundation and the US Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology are funding MForesight with a three-year, $5.8 million cooperative agreement.

(IANS)

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Apple Expands Its Campus to Austin, East and West U.S.

The infusion of thousands of new and highly paid residents can ripple through an economy

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Apple, Campus
A customer is entering the Apple store in Fairfax, Virginia. VOA

Apple will build a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, break ground on smaller locations in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California, and over the next three years expand in Pittsburgh, New York and Colorado.

The tech giant said Thursday that the new campus in Austin, less than a mile from existing Apple facilities, will open with 5,000 positions in engineering, research and development, operations, finance, sales, and customer support. The site, according to Apple, will have the capacity to eventually accommodate 15,000 employees.

The three other new locations will have more than 1,000 employees each.

Early this year, Apple said that it would make more than $30 billion in capital expenditures in the U.S. over the next five years. That, the company said in January, would create more than 20,000 new jobs at existing and new campuses that Apple planned to build.

Apple, Campus, Tim cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an event to announce new products, Oct. 30, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. VOA 

Where U.S. companies open new facilities or plants has always had the potential for public and political backlash.

That potential has intensified under the Trump administration, which has pushed companies to keep more of their operations inside the country’s borders.

While CEO Tim Cook has steered mostly clear President Donald Trump’s ire, Apple did receive some push back three months ago from the White House.

Apple sent a letter to the U.S. trade representative warning that the burgeoning trade war with China and rising tariffs could force higher prices for U.S. consumers.

Trump in a tweet told Apple to start making its products in the U.S., and not China.

Apple uses a lot of facilities overseas to produce components and its products, including China.

Apple, Tim Cook, Campus
A guest looks at the Touch Bar on a MacBook computer shown in a demo room following the announcement of new products at Apple headquarters, in Cupertino, California. VOA

Top tech executives from Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Qualcomm gathered at the White House earlier this month to discuss strained ties between the administration and the industry, and trade tensions with China. Cook was not among them, nor was Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

There are already 6,000 Apple employees in Austin, its largest operation outside of company headquarters in Cupertino, California, where 37,000 people are employed.

“Apple has been a vital part of the Austin community for a quarter century, and we are thrilled that they are deepening their investment in our people and the city we love,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a prepared statement Thursday.

Apple said nearly a year ago that it would begin canvassing the U.S. for another campus.

Cities offered incentives to lure the company, but Cook avoided a high-profile competition that pitted them against one another as Amazon did over the last year and a half.

Apple, Tim Cook, Campus
iPhone 8 was also launched with a special edition red colour, Pixabay

Amazon, too, expands

Amazon announced in November after a 14-month search it had selected Long Island City, Queens, and Arlington, Virginia, as the joint winners. Each site will employ around 25,000 people.

Cities are eager to bring in more tech employers because companies like Apple and Amazon ladle out six-figure salaries to engineers and other skilled workers.

Also Read: China Bans iPhone Sales Due to Patent Dispute

The infusion of thousands of new and highly paid residents can ripple through an economy, with those employees filling restaurants, theaters, buying property and paying taxes.

Annual pay will vary at the new locations, but Apple workers in Cupertino have an average annual salary of about $125,000, according to a report the company submitted to the city. (VOA)