College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Senator Harkin’s office learns about CIRAS, Manufacturing Extension Partnership programs


Rob Barron, state director for U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, met with CIRAS staff July 11 to learn more about its Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).

Steve Devlin, CIRAS MEP director, and Derek Thompson, CIRAS account manager, met with Barron and Glen Meier, director of corporate business development at Renewable Energy Group (REG), to highlight the role CIRAS and MEP play with small and mid-sized Iowa manufacturers. The meeting was held at REG’s Ames headquarters.

MEP, a program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology coordinated by CIRAS in Iowa, provides resources to help companies boost their long-term competitiveness in both domestic and global markets.

According to Devlin, CIRAS has used MEP funding to develop a network of formal relationships between companies and Iowa State University. Projects range from process improvements and worker training to business practices and information technology.

In the case of REG, CIRAS coordinated access to Iowa State faculty and lab facilities to streamline its process for converting natural oils from soybeans and other feedstocks into biodiesel. Today, REG is America’s largest producer of biodiesel, with a nationwide network of production and distribution facilities.

“MEP leverages government, industry, and private resources to help Iowa’s manufacturers grow their capacity and create jobs,” Devlin said. “The result is a win-win not only for the companies, but also for their communities and the entire state.”