ARM Institute 2021 Year in Review

2021 proved to be another successful and impactful year for the ARM Institute! Take a look back at just a few brief highlights from the year below:

RoboticsCareer.org Launches as National Workforce Capability

Earlier in 2021, we announced the availability of RoboticsCareer.org, our national manufacturing workforce solution. RoboticsCareer.org connects education seekers with training that aligns with our defined robotics career opportunities. To date, the site features 12,000+ programs ranging from micro-credentials to PhDs.

The ARM Institute’s defined robotics career pathways.

Alongside RoboticsCareer.org, we launched our new Endorsement program that recognizes top-tier training programs. Since launching the Endorsement Program, we have endorsed nine (9) educational programs. View all of our Endorsed Programs here. 

Partnering with Tooling U-SME and AmSkills, we received a $2.997 million grant from the Department of Labor to continue building upon RoboticsCareer.org, as well as address the immediate needs of unemployed and displaced workers in the Tampa Bay, Florida region. We also received a $200,000 grant from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation to endorse more programs in the Western Pennsylvania region.

Rapid Solutions to COVID-19

02/24/21 – BOSTON, MA – Students test medical protective gear using robots in the ISEC building on Feb 24, 2021. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

In August, we hosted our ARM Exchange Technical Summit: Robotic Solutions for Pandemics & Beyond where we highlighted the impact catalyzed by our nine COVID-19 focused robotics projects. The projects focused on several critical areas, including facility and surface disinfection, COVID-19 testing, the production and quality assurance procedures for personal protective equipment (PPE) production, and the use of robots in building temporary structures that can support hospital efforts. Through the Summit, project team members were able to engage directly with event attendees, including government stakeholders.

Funding for the projects was provided by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. By engaging with our robust member consortium, we were able to:

  • Rapidly contract with 45 days from the Project Call release to project start
  • Execute the projects in 12 months
  • Engage with 13 states and Puerto Rico
  • Partner with 23 unique organizations across the nine projects

Project Funding

ARM-TEC-21-02 Project Call

Earlier this year, we released a Technology Project Call that featured new Special Topic Areas including:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Robotics for Manufacturing,
  • Terrestrial Manufacturing for Space
  • Autonomy in Robotics for Manufacturing
  • Manufacturing Hypersonic Components & Structures
  • Safe Manufacturing of Energetics

In support of this Project Call, we hosted a virtual Tech Day where our members heard directly from Department of Defense subject matter experts on each of the Special Topic Areas. Attendees were also able to connect virtually to form project teams. The project selection announcement from this Project Call is forthcoming.

Directed Project Funding

We also announced the first projects funded through our new Directed Project Call process, which sought to quickly advance solutions for the Department of the Air Force. Directed Project Calls respond to specific needs defined by the Department of the Air Force and expands upon the ARM Institute’s existing capabilities. AFRL and the ARM Institute were able to execute rapid mobilization and contracting to award funding within only four (4) months of notification.

Active Project Calls

In November, we released two Project Calls that are still active and accepting submissions: 

  • ARM-TEC-21-03: This Technology Project Call is based on several specific priorities provided by the Department of the Air Force (DAF) in manufacturing and sustainment and features two Special Topic Areas: (1) Augmented Reality for Manufacturing & Sustainment and (2) Depot Factory AI Robotics (Depot-FAIR). Concept papers are due on December 17, 2021.
  • ARM-EWD-21-05: This Education & Workforce Development Project Calls seeks Endorsement Auditors for the ARM Endorsement Program. The project results will be to have ARM Members performing Endorsement audits as paid Auditors to assess programs which are providing best-in-practice, industry-focused advanced manufacturing training. Applications are due on December 29, 2021.

5th Annual ARM Member Meeting

We hosted our 5th Annual Member Meeting as our first hybrid event in November with more than 130 attendees participating in-person in Pittsburgh and nearly 100 more joining us online. The Annual Member Meeting is our cornerstone event and convenes representatives from across industry, government, and academia for 2.5 days of networking, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing.

We also welcomed two keynote speakers: Dr. Elisabeth Reynolds (Special Assistant to the President for Manufacturing and Economic Development at the White House National Economic Council) and Dr. Vic S. Ramdass (Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Material Readiness at OSD, Acquisition and Sustainment).

Our event focused on the impact catalyzed by the ARM Institute. We highlighted the transition of ARM Institute-funded projects from initial funding to impact on the factory floor, outputs from our AI Discovery Workshops, five-minute pitch presentations from a few new members, how members are leveraging ARM Institute project outputs, our new workforce capabilities, and more.

We also named our first two ARM Champions: Juan Aparicio (READY Robotics) and Debbie Franklin (Wichita State University).

All of the videos from the ARM Member Meeting will be available on the ARM Member Community for on-demand viewing soon!

Further Ecosystem Engagement

Throughout the year, we grew our consortium to more than 330 member organizations! All ARM Members can connect with contacts from other member organizations through the digital Member Community.

Earlier in 2021, we released new and expanded ARM Member Community capabilities that included a robust map and member directory, expanded search capabilities for ARM Institute-funded projects, and a Community integrated way to request access to project outputs.

In spite of the ongoing pandemic, the ARM Institute staff and members engaged the member ecosystem and the public by participating in 58 events (many virtual with some in-person) in 2021. Beyond our Annual Member Meeting and our Pandemic Summit, here are a few other highlights:

  • Motor Drive and Systems Conference panel discussion highlighting ARM Members Hebi Robotics, IAM Robotics, and MIT Lincoln Labs
  • SME Manufacturing and Technology Webinar on Industry 4.0 Workplace Challenges highlighting our Department of Labor partnership and ARM Member Wichita State Tech
  • AI in Manufacturing Conference panel discussion highlighting ARM Members Southwest Research Institute, READY Robotics, and ARIS Technology
  • Cybersecurity for Manufacturing Conference panel discussion highlighting ARM Member Festo and ARM Institute partners at NIST and MxD

We also hosted a number of ARM Exchange webinars. Below are a few of our top attended webinars. You can also access our full library of public webinars and videos here.

Members can access member-exclusive content on the ARM Member Community using the ARM Exchange tab.

New Team Members & Expanded Roles

In 2021, we expanded our team and welcomed John Zappa as our Sr. Product Manager and Louisa Michaels as our Chief Financial Officer. Elaine Zevkovich moved into a new role as our Sr. Financial Analysis Manager. We also promoted three employees to leadership positions: Dr. Charles (Chuck) Brandt was promoted from Sr. Director, Technology Development to Vice President, Technical Initiatives; Arnold Kravitz’s role was modified from Chief Technology Officer to Chief Innovation Officer; and Suzanne (Suzy) Teele was promoted from Head of Marketing & Communications to Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Outreach.

Industry Recognition

We were again honored to be a Pittsburgh Technology Council Tech50 Finalist, as well as a finalist in the Pittsburgh Business Time’s Best Places to Work list. Earlier in the year, Ira Moskowitz (ARM Institute CEO) was named a Top Leader Transforming Manufacturing by SME. Lisa Masciantonio (ARM Institute Chief Workforce Officer) was recognized as one of 20 Exceptional Women in Robotics and was nominated for Technical.ly Pittsburgh’s Culture Builder of the Year award.

Mill 19 in the News

Photo Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

In August, we returned to our headquarters Mill 19 in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood through a hybrid work environment. We hosted and participated in a number of significant meetings at Mill 19, including the Inaugural United States-European Union Trade and Technology Council Meeting, the Artificial Intelligence + Autonomous Systems Symposium with the Artificial Intelligence Integration Center (AI2C), a visit with Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung, and several meetings and events.

We continued working with the Hazelwood Community by sponsoring a Robotics and AI Camp for students in the neighborhood. Through the camps organized by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western PA in collaboration with the Center of Life, students earned certificates of completion from the ARM Institute Endorsed Carnegie Mellon Robotics’ Academy. We also catalyzed a Hazelwood Working Group that brings together community representatives to find more opportunities for engagement.

Mill 19 was also photographed in a 60 Minutes segment with Pittsburgh native Michael Keaton.

Looking Ahead

As the ARM Institute looks forward to 2022, we extend our gratitude to our members and partners who were integral to making this year a success! We look forward to continue pursuing our mission to:

  • Make robotics, autonomy, and artificial intelligence more accessible to U.S. manufacturers large and small
  • Train and empower the manufacturing workforce
  • Strengthen our economy and global competitiveness
  • Elevate our national security and resilience

Stay updated on our activities by subscribing to our newsletter below or email [email protected] to learn how you can help us pursue our mission as an ARM Institute Member.


About the ARM Institute

The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute is a Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense under Agreement Number W911NF-17-3-0004, and is part of the Manufacturing USA® network. The ARM Institute leverages a unique, robust, and diverse ecosystem of 300+ consortium members and partners across industry, academia, and government to make robotics, autonomy, and artificial intelligence more accessible to U.S. manufacturers large and small, train and empower the manufacturing workforce, strengthen our economy and global competitiveness, and elevate national security and resilience.  Based in Pittsburgh, PA since 2017, the ARM Institute is leading the way to a future where people & robots work together to respond to our nation’s greatest challenges and to produce the world’s most desired products. For more information, visit www.arminstitute.org  and follow the ARM Institute on LinkedIn and Twitter

Recent Posts