Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Coons manufacturing education measure passes Congress

Photo courtesy: Sen. Chris Coons office

Universities and nonprofits will soon get their chance to compete for $10 million in federal grants to modernize their manufacturing and engineering schools.

The U.S. Senate signed off on the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act Thursday, which includes $10 million in grants for revamped manufacturing courses.

Sen. Chris Coons (D) helped spearhead the idea. He notes manufacturing has changed significantly in recent years and schools need to reshape their curriculum to adapt to those needs.

“Part of it is the techniques and tools of manufacturing now that we’ve got additive manufacturing or so-called 3D manufacturing being widely deployed. But a new approach is one that focuses on process, on continuous improvement, on quality control and on the skills of an advanced manufacturing workforce,” Coons said.

Despite automation replacing some labor-intensive jobs, Coons says there will never be a point where people won’t be needed to oversee operations or plan out a company’s manufacturing system.

“We will always need engineers to help customize and improve and design the manufacturing systems of the future, even if they’re largely automated.”

Delaware State University and University of Delaware joined more than 25 other schools, companies and education groups in backing the measure.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill in the coming weeks.