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DoD’s Lynn Takes Page from History on Launch of Advanced Manufacturing Partnership

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, Photo: www.defense.gov

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III helped launch last week a new $500 million-dollar government initiative aimed at bolstering “advanced manufacturing,” by bringing together private industry, academia and the government to invest in new and emerging technologies.

The new program will help create a new class of high-tech manufacturing jobs and enhance U.S. global competitiveness, as a White House release describes.

At a Carnegie Mellon University event launching the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, Lynn said cutting-edge manufacturing also has a role to play in the Defense Department.

To make his point, Lynn used the histories of 19th-century inventor Eli Whitney, former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine and Regina Dugan, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Famous for inventing the cotton gin, Whitney was also instrumental in creating muskets with interchangeable parts, which eventually became the standard, Lynn said.

Augustine, who retired as Lockheed Martin CEO in 1997, is well-known for his thought leadership in the defense industry, crystallized in a 1984 book, “Augustine’s Laws,” which predicted the cost increase in high-performance jets and tactical aircraft as a part of overall increases in the defense budget.

Finally, Dugan, who was appointed to head DoD’s advanced-technology shop in 2009, has similarly focused on advanced manufacturing, Lynn said.

For example, by using integrated-circuits manufacturing, open design and configurable foundries, the agency was able to crowd-source the design of a vehicle, and a pilot was produced in 90 days.

“This is a pilot, not yet a complete vehicle,” he said. “But for DoD, this pilot has the ability to undo Augustine’s law and yield advances in manufacturing equivalent to what Eli Whitney ushered in during the early 19th century.”

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