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Blog Category: Technology

Energy House in Delaware Is Retraining and Giving Former Auto Workers a Leg Up in the Job Market

Energy House at Delaware Technical and Community College’s Georgetown campus was built with financial support from the Economic Development Administration.

Guest blog post by Matt Erskine, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

An impressive new training facility opened this spring at Delaware Technical and Community College’s campus in Georgetown and is expected to retrain former auto workers for new jobs in the emerging green sector. Energy House, designed to resemble an actual residence, serves as an educational lab where these workers can get a new start by learning about innovative energy-efficient technologies and renewable materials. Programs will fill a pressing need to train workers and will help strengthen the economic competitiveness of the Delaware region.

At the green building technology and alternative energy systems training center, students are being trained for the jobs and industries of the future. Participants are being prepared to work as skilled technicians who can install efficient heating and cooling systems and windows; retrofit homes to save electricity; and build and install solar panels, wind turbines, and other clean energy technologies. 

Commerce’s NIST Announces $2 Million for Small Business Innovation Research

A woman operates a prototype of an environmental chamber for humidity control by Measurement Analysis Corp. (Photo © Nicholas McIntosh)

The Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded nearly $2 million in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards to 12 U.S. businesses. These awards provide funding to help companies develop technologies that could lead to commercial and public benefit.

"We are delighted by the high quality of SBIR proposals we received, and congratulate all the awardees," said Phillip Singerman, associate director for innovation and industry services at NIST. "Over the past year, NIST updated the solicitation process to focus on critical national priorities and provide maximum opportunities for businesses that are just starting out. With three-fourths of the Phase I recipients in business fewer than 10 years and two-thirds of them with 12 employees or fewer, the results of the solicitation demonstrate the success of that process."

NIST's SBIR program is a competitive funding opportunity that provides contracts to small businesses for federal research and development. In Phase I, small businesses can receive up to $90,000 to establish the scientific or technical merit or feasibility of ideas that support the commercial potential of their research. If after six months the Phase I awardees have accomplished their goals, they can compete for Phase II funding of up to $300,000 to continue their research and development efforts for up to two years.

Read more about the 12 winners and how NIST will provide technical assistance and direct assistance as allowed by the SBIR statute, as well as direct them to additional resources through NIST's Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

BTOP Case Study: Building 21st Century Job Skills in California

In today’s information-age economy, broadband is becoming a necessity for anyone searching for or applying for a job. Many job openings are only posted online. And about 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies only accept applications online. What’s more, in the current job market, digital literacy skills are often a requirement. For example, about 60 percent of working Americans use the Internet as an integral part of their jobs. Yet too many Americans lack the broadband access or skills needed to succeed in the workforce.

To help address this gap, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, is investing approximately $4 billion in roughly 230 projects to increase broadband access and adoption around the country. The Recovery Act program, which is administered by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, recognizes that broadband can be a key to economic empowerment.

Commerce Announces Appointment of First-Ever Chief Manufacturing Officer

Portrait of Molnar

The Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced the appointment of the agency’s first-ever Chief Manufacturing Officer. The manufacturing sector is critical to the U.S. economy, and the Obama administration is committed to building domestic manufacturing capabilities to create the new products, new industries and new jobs of the future. The new position will leverage NIST’s strong relationships with industry to accelerate innovation that will create 21st-century manufacturing jobs and enhance our global competitiveness.

As Chief Manufacturing Officer, manufacturing industry executive Michael F. Molnar will be responsible for planning and coordination of the Institute’s broad array of manufacturing research and services programs and will support the broader Advanced Manufacturing Partnership recently launched by President Obama that brings industry, universities and the federal government together to invest in emerging technologies. NIST is particularly well-positioned to support this goal because of its unique mission to work closely with industry.

Molnar has extensive industrial experience, with past leadership roles in manufacturing technology, advanced manufacturing engineering, metrology and quality systems. He will serve as the central point of contact with the White House, the Department of Commerce and other agencies on technical and policy issues related to manufacturing.

Secretary Locke Speaks with Silicon Valley Leadership Group on Obama Administration's Efforts to Foster Innovation

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered remarks at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG)’s annual luncheon today, emphasizing the steps the Obama administration has taken to turn around the U.S. economy and create jobs. Locke stressed the administration’s efforts to build a stronger foundation for long-term growth and prosperity by investing in research and development, a 21st century infrastructure and manufacturing, and underlined Silicon Valley’s role as the epicenter of technological innovation.

Sec. Locke wanted it to be known that “when it comes to new ideas, our only criterion is efficacy. It doesn’t matter if they come from the left or the right, the boardroom or academia. We simply will not rest until every American who wants a job can find one.”

Locke emphasized that President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget, while freezing domestic discretionary spending overall, actually increases funding for civilian R&D by nearly 6 percent. Also, he noted President Obama’s support a new business tax cut that will allow small businesses to deduct the full amount of new capital investments immediately.

Locke also highlighted President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double U.S. exports over the next five years in support of several million American jobs. The NEI will provide more funding, more focus and more Cabinet-level coordination to increase U.S. exports, and represents the first time the United States will have a government-wide export-promotion strategy with focused attention from the president and his Cabinet.

Remarks

Secretary Locke Announces Initiative to Keep Internet Open for Innovation and Trade at Cybersecurity Forum

Secretary Locke speaking at cybersecurity forum in GeorgetownSpeaking today at the 5th annual Online Trust and Cybersecurity Forum at Georgetown Univeristy, Secretary Locke announced the official launch of an initiative aimed at preserving the global, free flow of information online to ensure that the Internet remains open for commercial opportunity and innovation. This initiative coincides with President Obama's message today in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly in which he reinforced America's commitment to "a free and open Internet."

The Commerce Department is seeking public comment on the extent to which evolving policies from governments around the world may be restricting information on the Internet and inhibiting innovation and economic growth for U.S. companies. The request will seek input from all stakeholders to better understand the types of emerging government policies that restrict online information, how they are adopted, and what impact they have on innovation, job creation, economic development, global trade and investment.


Secretary Locke Co-Chairs U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum in Denver

Secretary Locke and Minister Miguel JorgeU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and White House Deputy National Security Advisor Michael Froman co-chaired the fifth U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum today in Denver. Joining Locke and Froman as co-chairs was Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade Miguel Jorge.  This is the first time the U.S. has hosted the meeting outside of Washington, D.C. 

The U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum discussed critical business issues, including the negotiation of a bilateral tax treaty, customs facilitation and express reform, and energy and infrastructure. The Forum’s recommendations have advanced discussions between the United States and Brazil governments on other important issues such as visas, customs procedures, education and infrastructure reforms. Established in 2007, the U.S.-Brazil CEO Forum is made up of 20 CEOs from the U.S. and Brazil, and meets twice a year to make recommendations to the two governments on ways to strengthen the U.S.-Brazil economic relationship.

CEO Forum meetings were held at the U.S. Department of Energy's Research Support Facility – the nation's largest net-zero energy building designed to showcase energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies – located on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) campus.  Locke and Froman also toured the Science and Technology Facility on the NREL campus, highlighting the role of public-private partnership in research and development and NREL’s collaboration with Brazilian government and industry.

Following the Forum, the group participated in an event hosted by the 2010 Biennial of the Americas – an international event celebrating the culture, ideas and people of the Western Hemisphere. Throughout the month of July, Denver is welcoming national and international visitors for a cross-cultural experience bridging and unifying the artistic, intellectual and political progress of the hemisphere's 35 nations.  

Remarks

EDA Announces Competition to Bring Innovative Ideas to Market

The i6 Challenge Logo

The i6 Challenge is a new $12 million innovation competition administered by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF). EDA will award up to $1 million to each of six winning teams with the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in their regions. NIH and NSF will award a total of up to $6 million in supplemental funding to their SBIR grantees that are associated or partnered with the winning teams. (More) (Press release—PDF)

Secretary Locke Announces NIST to Lead National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education

Locke at podium.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today at the Business Software Alliance Cybersecurity Forum that the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will coordinate and facilitate the implementation of the Obama administration’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). This initiative expands the government’s cyber security education efforts into a national focus that will establish an operational, sustainable and continually-improving cyber security education program for the public and private sectors focused on sound cyber practices. (More) (Remarks)

Commerce's NIST Issues Landmark Fire Study on Saving Lives and Property

Photo of NIST researchers outside of burning building.

A landmark study issued today by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that the size of firefighting crews has a substantial effect on the fire service's ability to protect lives and property in residential fires. Performed by a broad coalition in the scientific, firefighting and public-safety communities, the study found that four-person firefighting crews were able to complete 22 essential firefighting and rescue tasks in a typical residential structure 30 percent faster than two-person crews and 25 percent faster than three-person crews. (Release) (Report)