Friday, Feb. 18, 2022
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
“A good plan and not enough time!”
This past Tuesday, in a meeting with Governor Mike Parson and several other university leaders, it was clear to me that the governor is supportive of our Manufacture Missouri Ecosystem (MME) and is working diligently with our state legislators to ensure our success. It was also encouraging to hear the governor discuss the state’s impressive top rankings and highlight all that is right with our state. The governor’s investment plan follows the principles of sustainability, long-term impact, sizable impact across the state, capacity, programs (not projects) and leveraging matching funds. Our MME program most certainly satisfies all of these principles highlighted by the governor for state support.
On the following day, University of Missouri System President Mun Choi and I met at the Missouri State Capitol with several legislators and highlighted the economic impact of our initiatives, including the fact that a $100 million investment in our Missouri Protoplex will have a remarkable 35-fold multiplier impact for the state in 25 years.
Clearly, the governor’s focus in supporting university initiatives such as ours is of course job creation and economic development for the state. In this effort, he values partnership and collaboration among the state, industry, and Missouri’s colleges and universities. The governor has proposed unprecedented financial support for major initiatives in S&T domains such as manufacturing, infrastructure, sustainability and automation, to name a few. The legislators fully grasp the consequential impact of their support for major initiatives. However, we and they fully understand that we must identify and bring together our assets and capabilities at all levels of university, industry and government to achieve the objectives of our initiatives.
So, what can we do to answer the call? On one hand, we must patiently identify our key partners – other colleges and universities, the state, and especially Missouri manufacturers – and tally their SKAs (skills, knowledge and abilities), assets and availability. On the other hand, we must be impatient in developing, with our partners, a plan to implement our strategies. To paraphrase the words of conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein, to achieve great milestones, we need a good plan and not enough time! We are adopting the impatient patience approach to move forward, expeditiously but methodically.
Using this approach, we have already identified many of our partners in industry and academia. We have dozens of Missouri companies partnering with us through our consortia in aerospace manufacturing, electromagnetic compatibility, steel manufacturing and the construction industry. To be sure, our outreach to others continues while we work to bring together our extended team, build buy-in across the team and ensure we reach our objectives as quickly as possible.
We are also developing our RAD (Research Asset Database), a searchable inventory tool to identify key assets when we need them, and perhaps more importantly, identify and address asset and capacity gaps so that we won’t lose momentum in the moment of need. I know of many examples of unique and critical equipment and SKAs that exist, albeit in a distributed manner, within companies and universities across our state. With the RAD, we will be able to assist our industry partners in short order when their need for specific technologies or capabilities arise. For example, if a manufacturer is interested in knowing more about the properties of shape-memory alloys, the RAD will connect that company to the available expertise at S&T or any of our partners.
I am grateful for the support expressed by the governor and our legislators to help us address some of our state’s urgent and important research and development needs. In turn, we, in partnership with other nodes of knowledge, will become a destination of choice and a “tech-know” center for thousands of manufacturing companies in our state who might not have the internal R&D capacity to address their pressing material, process, modeling and simulation issues.
For this worthy endeavor, we have a good plan and not enough time. Admitting that we are impatient, we must be careful to “make haste slowly”!
Check out the latest news from S&T:
206 Parker Hall, 300 West 13th Street, Rolla, MO 65409-0910