A Manufacturing Renaissance: Wang Has Sights Set On A Future of Innovation in U.S.

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For decades, the news for manufacturing in the United States has been bleak, but things have been changing in the last few years.  Ben Wang, executive director of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI) and the Eugene C. Gwaltney Jr. Chair in Manufacturing Systems for the College of Engineering, has been keeping his finger on the pulse of manufacturing in the United States and is well of aware of this trend.

Wang’s interests go beyond traditional manufacturing returning to the U.S. He and his colleagues at GTMI are working toward a new kind of manufacturing rooted in innovation and systems thinking by focusing on innovation to create high value-add products. The approach will require looking at the entire system instead of discrete events. And who is more qualified to look at the whole system than industrial engineers?

One project GTMI is working on for U.S. Veterans Affairs is called SOCAT, which stands for socket optimized for comfort with advanced technology. Wang’s colleague and fellow ISyE Professor Chuck Zhang is leading SOCAT, among other printed electronics projects.

"Our aspiration at GTMI is [to be] the leader in advanced manufacturing globally," Wang says. "And I think the ultimate goal is to make sure that we have substantial impact to create wealth, to elevate the standard of living of the U.S. citizens, to drive innovation and to create really good high-paying jobs, especially middle-class jobs. ... It is a lofty goal, but it is not unreachable."

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