Jan 23, 201812:24 PMMaking Madison
with Buckley Brinkman
Wisconsin’s economy looks ready for takeoff
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One of the best parts of my job is being a part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST is responsible for standardizing measurements across the economy and constantly looking into the future to anticipate ways the world will change. They engage over 2,000 of the world’s best scientists to bring the future into focus.
I made another visit to the NIST Labs earlier this month and once again it felt like being with an elite flight crew preparing for a trip into the future. On this trip, I saw technicians developing ways to connect 30-year-old equipment to the infrastructure necessary for Industry 4.0, using Wi-Fi, some wire, and a few well-placed sensors. The crew also showed me the continuing developments in robotics, as improvements in mobility and dexterity make it possible for more and more operations to automate. Finally, there was a bit of old-school measurement — a machine capable of accurately testing stresses of up to a million pounds of force.
Wisconsin is taking advantage of this work and lining up the runway for takeoff. The visit illustrated how well positioned we are for the future. Growth opportunities exist in multiple industries across the state; the state’s ecosystem provides a broad and fertile platform to develop those opportunities and recovery from the Great Recession made us more competitive. Finally, overall success depends on our ability to shift our focus from job creation to bringing more people into the workforce and constructively addressing the remaining barriers preventing us from growing our economy with fewer people.
My NIST visit demonstrated opportunities that exist across industries and geography. Sensors, wires, and expertise connect decades-old equipment to manufacturing networks, opening the door for legacy companies to participate in Industry 4.0. The robotics advances in mobility and dexterity makes automation possible in more situations than ever before. Most importantly, these activities demonstrate how cooperation across disciplines and generations leverage capabilities to new performance levels. Communities with cooperative organizations and collaborative people hold a distinct advantage and the first-class seats on this flight to the future.
Wisconsin understands this advantage and supports a vibrant ecosystem. We follow an industry cluster strategy that aligns and organizes resources around multiple industries where we hold a competitive advantage. Major players engage across industry, education, government, and other supporting organizations, which creates a strong foundation for future success.