In early October 2016, the U.S. Council on Competitiveness (CoC) unveiled a major report on the link between advanced materials and America’s future economic vitality. The report, reflecting more than a decade of study on advanced materials by the council, was the product of an April 2016 dialogue on the subject organized by the council’s Energy and Manufacturing Competitiveness Partnership and chaired by WPI president Laurie Leshin, along with council president and CEO Deborah Wince-Smith and Aziz Asphahani, CEO of QuesTek Innovations.
The panel discussion included national leaders and materials experts from all sectors of the economy. Among the participants from WPI were Danielle Cote, assistant research professor of materials science and engineering; Diana Lados, associate professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Integrative Materials Design Center; Brajendra Mishra, Kenneth G. Merriam Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling; and Bogdan Vernescu, vice provost for research.
Diran Apelian, Alcoa-Howmet Professor of Engineering at WPI and founding director of the Metal Processing Institute (MPI), gave a presentation during the April CoC meeting on barriers and impediments to deploying the full potential of advanced materials. Subsequently, Apelian and Asphahani participated in a panel on Capitol Hill on Oct. 4 (National Manufacturing Day), where the council report was made public.
“Throughout history, materials have marked eras in our development as a society, civilization, and culture: Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, and so on,” Apelian said during the Capitol Hill event. “In the 21st century, it is the Innovation Age, which is enabled and fueled by advanced materials. For the United States to maintain its competitive advantage, we must invest in the engine that fuels the innovation economy: advanced materials. It’s that simple.”