A recent workshop on Nano and Micro Manufacturing brought together more than 140 nano/microscale device and material manufacturers, researchers, and end users of these technologies to discuss how to rapidly and effectively translate university research into practical products. The event was held May 22-23 at the Ford Motor Company Conference and Event Center in Dearborn, MI.
Unique challenges exist in moving from university nano and micro research to the manufacturing stage. Unlike some forms of technology that require a relatively small amount of funding to move from concept to reality – nanoscale and microscale devices require highly specialized laboratories for their creation and fabrication. The payoff in terms of human benefit is great, but the cost can be daunting to many potential investors.
Sridhar Kota, Herrick Professor of Engineering in the department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan, was the first plenary speaker. Prof. Kota recently served as the Assistant Director for Advanced Manufacturing at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He played an instrumental role in launching the National Manufacturing Innovation Institute and the National Robotics Initiative. Prof. Kota pointed out that European governments often have joint industrial-government funded laboratories that do advanced product development, which might be an appropriate model for the United States.
Kurt Petersen, also a plenary speaker, brought his expertise in having co-founded six successful companies in MEMS technology. Dr. Peterson, who currently mentors and invests in early stage, high-tech start-up companies, stated that the quality of business plans has greatly improved since the tech bubble of 2001. However, he has also been witness to the decrease in the availability of venture capital funding.
Ken Wise, William Gould Dow Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (and former J. Reid and Polly Anderson Professor of Manufacturing Technology), entertained the participants after their dinner at the Henry Ford Museum with his talk about microelectronics in the “More than Moore” age. Prof. Wise had an influential role in defining the field of MEMS and micromanufacturing, and shared a few of his stories. He is excited about the future and what can be accomplished through the integration of MEMS, VLSI, and wireless technology to create self-powered communicating microsystems.
Lynn Conway, professor emerita of the EECS Department and one of the true pioneers of microelectronics chip design and the VLSI revolution, talked about some of the societal benefits to be gained through the integration of VLSI, sensors, wireless, and software into microsystems. She stressed that providing the appropriate education to our students is key for this to be accompished.
In addition, there were more than 20 talks by individuals from industry and academia (see the agenda for the complete list). Attendees at the workshop represented the energy, semiconductor, medical device, defense and automotive sectors, including Shell, Toyota, Freescale Semiconductor, and Stryker Instruments. Discussions included the need for new technologies in agriculture and medicine, the remarkable advances being made at universities, resources to aid entrepreneurs in the commercialization of technology, and the environmental and safety issues associated with nano technology.
“This workshop is a first step toward developing a roadmap for practical innovations in nano/micro-manufacturing. The aim is to promote application-driven research and commercialization of relevant manufacturing technologies which will lead to good paying jobs in Michigan and the United States,” said Yogesh Gianchandani, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of the Center for Wireless Integrated MicroSensing & Systems (WIMS2).
The workshop was sponsored by the Center for Wireless Integrated MicroSensing & Systems (WIMS2), the National Science Foundation, Freescale Semiconductor, Transducer Research Foundation, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).
Plenary and Guest Speakers
Revitalizaing American Manufacturing – Challenges and Opportunities
– Sridhar Kota, University of Michigan
Commercializing MEMS: A View From the Trenches
– Kurt Petersen, Chief Engineer, PROFUSA, Inc.
Microelectronics in the “More Than Moore” Age: Becoming a Truly Pervasive Technology
– Kensall D. Wise, University of Michigan
Envisioning the Engineering Adventures that Lie Ahead
– Lynn Conway, University of Michigan
Session and Panel Topics
Infra-Technologies and Policy
Barriers to Commercialization