College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Advanced manufacturing important for Iowa

Engineering Dean Wickert talks with Vice President Biden.
Dean Wickert talks with Vice President Biden.

Iowa State recently hosted Vice President Joe Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who came to campus March 1 to highlight the importance of innovation and advanced manufacturing to the American economy.

Vice President Biden’s visit to Howe Hall also included a tour of aerospace engineering’s Make to Innovate lab, where Iowa State President Steven Leath and I proudly introduced him to four students who are learning about advanced manufacturing techniques in their classes and using them in their own projects. MSE student John Solomon had the honor of appearing on stage and introducing Vice President Biden and Secretary Vilsack at the town hall meeting.

The students did a fantastic job—I’m sure I was more nervous than they were—and their parents were also invited to share in the special day.

The Vice President toured an engineering laboratory during his fast-paced visit, and the bigger picture is that advanced manufacturing research and coursework is happening all over campus. The seeds of innovation are also being sown in our colleges of business, liberal arts, design and—literally—in agriculture and life sciences.

In his remarks, the Vice President pointed out that continued development of manufacturing capability is critical to Iowa’s future. One in 15 Iowans works in the manufacturing sector. Iowa manufacturers account for 17 percent of our state’s economic output, and 88 percent of its exports.

Iowa’s manufacturers are also among the top recruiters of our engineering students. In fact, many of our students get industry experience before graduation through internships, co-ops, and our senior capstone design program.

In writing about the Vice President’s visit, I want to point out how proud I am of the way that so many people stepped up to make this high-profile event happen. There was a lot of behind the scenes work, and on a short time scale! In particular, the Team 3 custodial staff did a great job in preparing the building, and our colleagues in Howe Hall were very gracious about vacating their offices during the actual visit.

Read this great journal entry from Joe Schaefer, aerospace senior lecturer, for an “eyewitness” account of our preparations.