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News | Dec. 22, 2023

DoD ManTech Hosts USD Shyu for Annual Conference: Interacting with Small and Large Companies in the Defense Industrial Base

By DoD ManTech

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Leaders and innovators across government and industry shared ideas on manufacturing policy, strategy, and opportunity at the annual Defense Manufacturing Conference 2023 at Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee, Dec. 11 – 14.
The event, jointly hosted by the Navy Manufacturing Technology Program and the DOD Manufacturing Technology Program Joint Defense Manufacturing Technology Panel, focused on innovation and collaboration within the defense manufacturing sector.
Leaders from the JDMTP, Military Service ManTech and Defense Agency ManTech Programs opened the conference with an informational session highlighting program initiatives, capabilities, and projects. Keynote remarks from Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu and Director of Science & Technology Futures, Dr. Kevin Geiss, set the tone and reinforced the Defense Department's commitment to American advanced manufacturing, which is critical to the nation’s security and part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.
Shyu called upon the community to bring forth ideas and challenges, foster engagement, and collaborate to fortify America’s national advantage.
“Together with all of you, we are solving problems for our servicemembers with a unique approach that will benefit our military for years to come,” said Shyu. “Your innovation will help the United States regain our dominance in manufacturing as well as create jobs within the U.S.”
Geiss spoke on how DOD ManTech programs and the newly-established Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Sustainment Office play a vital role in supporting the National Defense Science and Technology Strategy priorities.
To showcase the projects and developments from across the entire DOD ManTech enterprise, OSD ManTech hosted Shyu, Geiss, and other R&E representatives for a tour of the exhibit hall where they stopped to talk with DOD components, partner companies and agencies, including Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, the Manufacturing Science and Technology Program, and the Manufacturing Education and Workforce Development Program. OSD ManTech Program Director Tracy Frost led the group through the displays of cutting-edge advancements and collaborations within defense manufacturing that supports the advancement of R&E’s critical technology areas and contribute to growing U.S. manufacturing ecosystems.
“The concerted effort at DMC underscores the foundation upon which transformative advancements are built, ensuring our nation’s sustained position at the forefront of defense innovation,” said Frost.

DMC hosted a range of technical sessions covering additive manufacturing, energetics, metals, cybersecurity, supply chain modernization, and industry challenges. Panels moderated by experts from across the government and industry offered insights and highlighted best practices.
The M-EWD Program hosted and moderated three sessions with industry experts and practitioners to discuss the pivotal role of education in growing our defense manufacturing workforce and strategies to meet inherent challenges and gaps. The sessions delved into targeted topics that support the Defense Department’s mission and emphasized the need to encourage an inclusive industry workforce. Topics included innovative workforce practices, bridging skill gaps, and cultivating a robust talent pool. Key themes emerged emphasizing the manufacturing industry's need to prioritize talent attraction and inclusivity for students with and without technical degrees, including those in STEM fields or similar studies. Participants pushed for the promotion of on-the-job training to attract the entry-level workers who have a desire to learn and pursue manufacturing careers.  During these sessions, M-EWD gathered industry experts from Northwest UAV, Spirit AeroSystems, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center, Lockheed Martin, and more, to discuss the defense manufacturing industry’s future. Participants also discussed possible solutions, which include more apprenticeships, internships, industry-based engagement opportunities, on-site trainings to a wide range of students and applicants, and creating more connections between job seekers and their local and state resources.