Headshot of Kelly Speakes-Backman

By Kelly Speakes-Backman, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

It’s October 1, and for us here in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) that means it’s our yearly opportunity to join with manufacturers across the country to celebrate Manufacturing Day!

Organized by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)’s Manufacturing Institute, Manufacturing Day is our opportunity to give America’s next generation of innovators a look at advanced manufacturing. Today we showcase our most exciting career and workforce development programs.

One out of every 12 workers—over 12 million people[1]—are employed in manufacturing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With such a large and diverse workforce, there is a rapidly growing range of opportunities for students of all disciplines to develop careers in next-generation manufacturing and industrial decarbonization. At DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), we are focused on equipping American manufacturers with the skills they need to boost domestic energy productivity, decarbonize their own operations, and win the race in a rapidly decarbonizing global economy.

Innovators at DOE’s National Labs, as well as AMO’s own manufacturing institutes and research consortia, are embarking on new projects across the manufacturing sector. These include the announcement of four new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Centers to help optimize manufactures’ use of energy and materials through specialized training and direct industry engagement; new funding for 11 projects with the potential to advance manufacturing technologies and practices; new funding to develop desalination technologies that will help bring freshwater supplies to communities across the nation; and numerous initiatives and investments as part of the recent “Future of Manufacturing Week.”

To grow our clean energy economy and meet this Administration’s decarbonization goals, millions of new manufacturing jobs will be created over the next 10 years. Today’s students could be tomorrow’s manufacturing leaders; they will create aircraft, cars, turbines, and clean energy products that will sustain America’s leadership in manufacturing for generations to come. At EERE, we are laser-focused on equipping future manufacturing workers with the technologies and skills they need to accelerate our progress toward a carbon-free economy.

AMO has launched several initiatives across the office’s technology portfolio to address the needs of community college students, undergrad/graduate students, and workers currently employed in manufacturing. They include:

  • Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs) which create opportunities for students to attain real-world industrial experience by participating in free energy assessments for small-to-medium-sized manufacturers, helping them save money and become more sustainable.
  • University-based traineeships at Georgia Tech, the University of Connecticut, Virginia Tech, and the University of Tennessee – Knoxville.
  • The Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program offers postdoctoral researchers opportunities to develop their research into commercialized products while training them to be entrepreneurs.
  • The Robotics Internship Program provides opportunities for students and recent graduates to intern at DOE national laboratories, and work on technologies used to develop machines that can substitute for humans and replicate human action.
  • Technical assistance programs such as the 50001 Ready program, CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships, and the Better Plants program provide trainings to manufacturing workers to increase their understanding of efficiency technologies and improve their energy management practices.
  • Education & workforce development programs through each of DOE’s six Manufacturing USA Institutes
  • The Energy Storage Internship Program allows students and recent graduates to focus on the development of newer chemistries, battery designs and manufacturing processes needed to usher changes in energy storage.

AMO’s workforce development initiatives will continue to grow and evolve in the coming years. AMO periodically hosts workshops with manufacturers and employees to identify workforce challenges across different manufacturing sectors and develop programs that target those challenges. This year, these workshops are helping AMO develop an education and workforce development “roadmap.” This ongoing collaboration helps AMO design initiatives that proactively address the workforce needs of America’s manufacturing sector, with hands-on input from those who are hiring the workforce of tomorrow.

This Manufacturing Day, AMO is offering prospective job-seekers some insight into what careers in today’s advanced manufacturing sector look like. Follow along all day for insight into the world of American advanced manufacturing on EERE’s twitter account, and check out AMO’s resources to learn what your future might look like as part of America’s manufacturing workforce.


[1] https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm: 153 million employed workers in the US
https://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag31-33.htm: 12.41 million manufacturing employees