Why MEMS matters

By Karen Lightman, MEMS Industry Group

Originally posted on MicroManufacturing

“Manufacturing matters,” as Bennett Harrison, my graduate advisor at Carnegie Mellon University, used to say. It was a main theme of The Deindustrialization of America, a book he co-authored with Barry Bluestone describing the demise of manufacturing jobs in the United States. Today, as I see it, “MEMS matters”—and not just in the U.S. MEMS manufacturing matters worldwide.

MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) matters because in these insecure economic times, the MEMS industry is a bright spot in manufacturing. MEMS is a $9 billion market, and thanks to increased adoption in consumer and mobile-device applications, the market analysis firm IHS iSuppli projects MEMS will experience double-digit growth annually through 2015, when sales are expected to reach $12.1 billion.

I have been ruminating on this topic a great deal recently because of my interest in the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The PCAST report on Advanced Manufacturing for the Office of Science and Technology Policy—a report to President Obama on “ensuring American leadership in advanced manufacturing”—was released by the White House in June 2011. That report and Jon Gertner’s Aug. 25, 2011, article in The New York Times, “Does America Need Manufacturing,” have helped focus my attention on why MEMS—and other advanced technologies—matter to America…

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