In March 9th, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII) announced more than $6 million for eight projects to improve energy-intensive manufacturing processes and strengthen the U.S. manufacturing sector. One is a collaboration among Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals to develop advanced process models, sensors and data integration architecture that will be demonstrated on wet granulation, drying and milling in pharmaceutical manufacturing processes.
CESMII is a part of Manufacturing USA, a network of regional institutes that have a specialized technology focus to increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and promote a robust and sustainable national manufacturing research and development (R&D) infrastructure. CESMII works with American companies to spur innovations in new, integrated, systematic “smart” manufacturing processes with a highly skilled manufacturing workforce and a vibrant supply chain.
It stands to reason that New Jersey would attract some of the CESMII funding. It’s an advanced manufacturing hub with more than 2,500 such companies directly employing more than 245,000 workers. These companies contribute more than $38 billion to the state’s GDP — up 6.3% since 2013. Two thirds of all manufacturing employment is classified as advanced, in sectors that include biopharmaceuticals and medical devices (43%), chemicals (18%), electronics (7%), fabricated metals (5%), and machinery (4%) among others.
Institutes, Partnerships Meet Talent Demand
Rutgers is home of the New Jersey Advanced Manufacturing Institute to “serve as a focal point for the state’s programs in this critical area,” explains its website. “NJAMI will allow Rutgers Engineering to leverage its current strong business partnerships and build new and robust industry networks, as well as develop high-tech ecosystems to attract major federal, state, and private investment. It will provide a platform to develop new research that can lead to commercialization and licensing opportunities, business development and new well-paying jobs throughout the state.”
Other higher-ed resources for the sector include the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Center for Manufacturing Systems and its Makerspace prototyping and collaboration facility in Newark for testing ideas and bringing them to scale using 3D printing and robotics. The New Jersey Community College Consortium (NJCC)’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Initiative consults with companies on workforce development and recruits, trains and certifies individuals to fill job openings at New Jersey manufacturers.
The County College of Morris (CCM) opened its $11 million, 31,500-sq.-ft. Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Center in the spring of 2020. “This new facility, like all of our buildings, is more than a structure. It is a resource for the community. As such, it is intended to support regional manufacturers by providing an innovative and inspiring learning environment where today’s students become tomorrow’s engineers,” said Dr. Anthony J. Iacono, CCM president. “It will allow CCM to expand upon its work of producing a pipeline of skilled workers. And, equally important, it provides a home-base for all regional manufacturers who seek to ensure that their current employees have the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge training so their companies can remain industry leaders.”
In October 2020, Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken and Seton Hall University, South Orange, announced the launch of a dual-degree program, offering students an opportunity to earn an accelerated bachelor’s degree in physics from Seton Hall and a master’s degree in engineering or artificial intelligence from Stevens in five years. This strategic academic partnership establishes a shared commitment to create a highly trained workforce in the science and engineering hub of this state and this nation.
“This program combines the distinctive strengths of both institutions to create pathways for even greater success for our students,” said Joseph E. Nyre, Ph.D., president of Seton Hall. “STEM education is vital to America’s global leadership in science and technology. This program offers a strong, technical, values-based education to meet the nation’s growing need for classically trained engineers and scientists. Innovative partnerships like this one will continue to keep New Jersey at the forefront of excellence in higher education.”
Recent corporate investments in New Jersey’s advanced manufacturing sector include: Old Bridge Chemicals’ recently completed expansion of its manufacturing operations that more than doubles its zinc sulfate manufacturing capacity in Old Bridge; dessert ingredient maker Puratos Groups’ new $10 million, 23,700-sq.-ft. headquarters and Innovation Center in Pennsauken; and Gerresheimer’s recently opened Gx Glass Innovation and Technology Center for the pharmaceutical sector in Vineland.