A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation that would provide 25 universities with federal funding to bolster programs relating to manufacturing.
The bill would establish a program within the U.S. Commerce Department to select 25 "Manufacturing Universities." Qualifying campuses would receive $20 million over four years to meet goals related to engineering, job training, manufacturing entrepreneurship and partnering with manufacturing companies.
"We need our engineers to fill the growing demand for manufacturing workers and accelerate manufacturing’s growth," said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware. "This bipartisan bill would help us meet that challenge."
“As a small business owner who worked in manufacturing for over 35 years, I understand the difficulty in training and finding qualified manufacturing workers,” added Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York. "To expand manufacturing in the United States, we need to have a workforce capable of filling these skilled jobs."
The director of the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology would oversee the program in coordination with the Energy and Defense departments and the National Science Foundation.
Coons and Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, introduced similar legislation during the previous session of Congress, but the measure did not advance through the Senate's education committee.