ARM Institute 2021 Member Meeting Recap

In November, we convened our national membership both in Pittsburgh, PA and virtually for our 5th Annual Member Meeting. More than 130 members joined us in Pittsburgh with nearly 100 more joining online for 2.5 days of networking, knowledge-sharing, and collaboration.

With attendees spanning industry, government, and academia, we used the Member Meeting to showcase the impact of ARM Institute funded projects, look ahead at what’s to come for the Institute, share member success stories, and connect critical stakeholders all working towards the common mission of strengthening U.S. manufacturing through robotics and workforce innovation.

A few key takeaways from our event include:

  • ARM Institute funded project outputs are being leveraged and making an impact
  • The ARM Institute is well-positioned to rapidly address both Department of Defense (DoD) needs and industry needs
  • Partnerships and collaboration between industry, government, and academia are critical to strengthening U.S. manufacturing post-COVID and moving into the future. The ARM Institute and Manufacturing USA network are cornerstone pieces in this strategy.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is a key enabling technology that will improve U.S. manufacturing competitiveness. The ARM Institute, in collaboration our consortium of experts, is driving research in this area and determining the advancements needed and next steps
  • Upskilling the current manufacturing workforce and recruiting younger generations into manufacturing careers is critical to our nation’s resiliency. Through a robust set of education and workforce capabilities, the ARM Institute is making training more accessible and manufacturing careers using robotics more visible

Take a more in-depth look inside our event with the recap below!

Note that all of the session recordings and videos from the event are now available to Members-only through the ARM Member Community.  Reach out to [email protected] if you need assistance getting access to the Member Community.

Monday, November 15

Ira Moskowitz, ARM Institute CEO, officially opened our Annual Member Meeting with an overview Institute activities in 2021 and showcasing what is coming in 2022. This was Ira’s first in-person Member Meeting as our CEO, though he had attended many of meetings as a Member prior to his appointment as CEO.

A few new ARM Institute Members then took the stage to present five minute overviews of their capabilities and organizations. This session epitomized the diversity of the ARM Institute ecosystem, with the presenting organizations ranging from a high school to new start-ups.

Finally, we moved into our opening networking reception that featured posters on each of our funded projects and, new for this year, posters showcasing ARM Institute Endorsed Education Programs.

Tuesday, November 16

Keynote Presentation

Day two of our conference opened with a keynote presentation from Dr. Vic S. Ramdass, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Materiel Readiness at OSD, Acquisition and Sustainment. Joining us virtually, Dr. Ramdass outlined how robotics can help the Department of Defense (DoD) specifically as it applies to materiel readiness, noting three things needed to integrate robotics to drive innovation:

  1. Leadership in the face of resistance
  2. Cultural change – working with robots
  3. Collaboration and communication

Dr. Ramdass also emphasized the need to use robotics in equipment repairs; with more than 14,000 aircraft and 330K vehicles, using robotics alongside humans to complete repair tasks is critical to our nation’s resilience.

Dr. Ramdass concluded his presentation by outlining what he believes to key to successfully transitioning technology: a known requirement with a sponsor who can champion the technology.

Education & Workforce Development Annual Highlights

Following the keynote, Lisa Masciantonio (ARM Institute Chief Workforce Officer), Linda Wood (ARM Institute Sr. Certification Manager), and Kyle Sossi (ARM Institute Education & Workforce Development Project Manager) presented annual highlights from the EWD side of the ARM Institute, which included:

  • The launch and subsequent growth of RoboticsCareer.org, our national workforce capability that connects education seekers with training for manufacturing careers working with robotics
  • Details about the new ARM Endorsement Program, which at the time had recognized nine programs with ARM Endorsement
  • The progress by the ARM Institute Credential Working Group, which convenes ARM Institute Members to drive the strategy behind the forthcoming ARM Credential
  • Workforce centric collaborations between the ARM Institute and other Manufacturing USA institutes
  • The new RoboRecharge program, powered by BotsIQ and the ARM Institute, that immerses middle and high school students into the world of advanced manufacturing technology and gets young people excited about STEM-based education and career pathways.

Technology Annual Highlights

Arnie Kravitz, ARM Institute Chief Innovation Officer, then showcased a few significant achievements by the ARM Institute Technology and Program Management team, including:

  • Select ARM Institute-funded project impact stories, including the ARM Institute’s COVID-19 projects
  • Focused ARM Institute achievements in the areas of composites, metal-working, and artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance manufacturing
  • Key technology activities that Members can expect in 2022

Membership Annual Highlights

Jay Douglass, ARM Institute Chief Operating Officer, presented a few highlights from our Membership, which included:

  • The growth of the ARM Institute member consortium to more than 330 organizations
  • How ARM Institute Working Groups will give ARM Members new ways to engage and support the overall Institute’s mission
  • The new ARM Institute Champions program that both recognizes members who have significantly contributed to the ARM Institute’s ecosystem growth and provides new pathways for Champions to essentially act as ARM Institute advocates and brand ambassadors

Jay presented the first two ARM Institute Champions – Debbie Franklin (Wichita State University) and Juan Aparicio (READY Robotics). Debbie and Juan were selected for the Institute’s inaugural class of ARM Champions because they have play an integral role in growing the ARM Member ecosystem, foster innovation through ARM Institute projects, and, more generally, showcase the importance of manufacturing. More information about the ARM Champions program is forthcoming.

Communications & Engagement Annual Highlights

Suzy Teele, ARM Institute Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Outreach, outlined the member-exclusive tools that ARM Institute Members can leverage to connect with each other, how the ARM Institute champions Member expertise and success stories, and our various communications and engagement tools.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Discovery Workshop Panel Discussion

Following the ARM Institute’s annual highlights, we then showcased a panel discussion on our recent AI Discovery Workshop. The ARM Institute’s AI Discovery Workshop convened experts from across the ARM Membership and government. Throughout the five week workshop, our participants explored how AI can be used used to enhance robotic technologies to improve manufacturing processes and capabilities.

Michael Skocik (ARM Institute Program Manager) moderated the workshop discussion with Gary Fedder (Carnegie Mellon University) and Mingu Kang (ARIS Technology). During the AI Discovery Workshop, more than 300 ideas were identified and clustered into common themes. From there, the eight key enabling capabilities were identified. A more detailed report on the workshop outputs is forthcoming.

Transitioning Impact: From ARM Institute Funding to Application

Annette Vickers, ARM Institute Sr. Market Analyst, outlined the Institute’s new process for transitioning project outputs, tracking the progress and implementation of ARM Institute funded projects, and helping projects get put into real world use. Three project team members then outlined how their projects transitioning from ARM Institute funding into real application. The presenting project team members were: Steve Burris (Stellantis), Krish Pandya (Oak Moss Consulting), Jay Wheaton (Rochester Institute of Technology, and Dan Mantz (Robotics Education & Competition Foundation).

Following this presentation, our event split into two concurrent tracks: a Technology Track and an Education & Workforce Development (EWD) Track.

Tech Track

Jonathan Fischer, Director of IT, kicked off the Tech Track by outlining how ARM Institute Members can use new capabilities in the ARM Member Community to access outputs from ARM Institute funded projects. With the new Member Community capabilities launched in the spring of 2021, ARM Members can now use enhanced search functionality to more easily find ARM Institute projects by application and focus area and can now request access to project outputs through the Member Community. Jonathan also highlighted the new ARM Institute Consortium Developed Intellectual Property (CDIP) Catalog that outlines what project assets the ARM Institute has in GitHub from each project. The catalog is currently available to ARM Members in the Member Community.

Matt Fischer, Program Manager, then moderated a discussion with ARM Institute Members who are building on software outputs from ARM Institute funded technology projects. Presenters included: Kevin Barry (Lockheed Martin), Paul Evans (SwRI), and Martin Philo (GKN Aerospace). Our presenters discussed the advantages to building on previous ARM Institute software outputs.

Education & Workforce Development (EWD) Track

The EWD Track focused on how ARM Institute Members can leverage existing capabilities on RoboticsCareer.org, our national workforce resource that connects education seekers with training for manufacturing careers working with robotics, and new capabilities that are being planned. The ARM Institute Education & Workforce Development team solicited Members for feedback in this session to ensure that RoboticsCareer.org is addressing pervasive industry workforce needs and will help to connect education seekers, from high school students to incumbent workers, find industry-approved training.

Mill 19 Virtual Tour

Typically, we host a member reception at our Mill 19 headquarters in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood, however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we instead took Member Meeting attendees on a virtual tour of Mill 19. This virtual tour explored how the overall Hazelwood Green complex has grown with Motional and OneValley moving into the area, significant events that have taken place at Mill 19, and the ARM Institute’s plans for future use of Mill 19.

We concluded the second day with another evening of networking.

Wednesday, November 17

Keynote Presentation by Dr. Elisabeth Reynolds

We kicked off day three of our Member Meeting with a keynote presentation from Dr. Elisabeth Reynolds, Special Assistant to the President for Manufacturing and Economic Development at the White House National Economic Council. Dr. Reynolds outlined the current administration’s concerns as they relate to manufacturing. To address these concerns, the current administration is focused on: supply chain resilience and preparedness, research and development (specifically in advanced technology like robotics and AI), procurement and Made in America initiatives, leveraging manufacturing ecosystems, specifically Manufacturing USA, and workforce development.

Specifically, Dr. Reynolds noted that the ARM Institute and the Manufacturing USA institutes as a network are a key part of this strategy and can take the lead in areas by:

  • Ensuring that technology augments the skills of works and increases productivity
  • Promoting the widespread adoption of new technology
  • Rebuilding resilient (not just low-cost) supply chains
  • Leading with a long-term strategic view
  • Providing career pathways for the next generation of workers

The key takeaway: The ARM Institute is already working in each of the areas outlined by Dr. Reynolds. Additionally, as Dr. Reynolds noted during her presentation, the ARM Institute and the Manufacturing USA network is critical to the nation’s ability to compete and bridge the public and private sectors.

Following a brief event recap by Ira Moskowitz, we then broke into concurrent Technology and Education/Workforce Development tracks again.

Technology Track

Our Technology track hosted a Tech Day in support of the current ARM Institute Technology Project Call (ARM-TEC-21-03). This Project Call is based on several specific priorities provided by the Department of the Air Force (DAF) in manufacturing and sustainment and, generally, on the strategic focus areas identified in the ARM Institute Technology Investment Strategy (“TIS”).

The foundation of this Project Call is two special topic areas:

  • Augmented Reality for Manufacturing & Sustainment
  • Depot Factory AI Robotics (Depot-FAIR)

As part of Tech Day, the ARM Institute team helped our members to craft competitive responses to our Project Call by bringing in Air Force subject matter experts to provide more insight into each special topic area and answer questions, hosting 1:1 meetings where teams could consult with the ARM Institute Tech Team and Air Force speakers about their proposals, facilitating project-teaming and networking, and providing an overview of the process for submitting concept papers.

Education & Workforce Development (EWD) Track

Concurrently, the EWD track focused on their new EWD Project Call. This Project Call seeks to add additional paid auditors to the ARM Endorsement program, which recognizes top-tier training programs for manufacturing careers in robotics through a rigorous evaluation. Similar to Tech Day, this portion of the track helped clarify questions about the Project Call process and content so that Members can prepare competitive responses.

Following the Project Call discussion, the EWD team outlined the work and lessons learned from their initial Future of Work Discovery sessions, plans for a Future of Work Working Group, and how Members can get involved moving forward.

Next Steps & Thank You!

Each of the presentations and session recordings from our Annual Meeting available are now available for on-demand viewing through the Member Community by ARM Institute Members only. Additionally, we will leverage feedback from both the post-event survey and our Annual Member Survey to improve future events, determine future member offerings, and prioritize Institute activities.

The ARM Institute team thanks all of our Members who attended this year’s Member Meeting – either virtually or in-person. We would also like to extend our gratitude to our keynote speakers, member presenters, and event partners who made our first hybrid event a success. Additionally, thank you to our in-person attendees for following our event safety guidelines, which included wearing a mask, using a separate area for group dining, and showing proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, for helping us create a safe event environment for all participants.

Get Involved

Interested in attending other Member-exclusive events or getting involved in ARM Institute projects? Email [email protected] to learn more.

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