On November 1, we held our first ever CrossTalk event. This event brought together our state’s brightest academic researchers and leading industry innovators in the advanced materials & manufacturing industry into an open and informative exchange. Held at the OC Tanner conference facility in Salt Lake City, over 100 representatives from the state’s major universities, technology colleges, industry and defense companies attended the half-day event.UAMMI-CrossTalk

In an exciting rapid-fire format, a panel of academic researchers presented their latest studies and findings in the fields of advanced materials and manufacturing. They were followed by an equally exciting panel comprised of industry experts from the leading advanced materials companies including Boeing, Orbital ATK, Lockheed Martin and Hill Airforce Base.

This fresh and innovative new forum had been in the works for some time.  Based on requests we had received from both the industry and academia to know more of what each other is doing, Crosstalk was formed with the purpose of sharing relevant new research and promoting new areas of collaboration.  Based on the reaction of those that attended, Crosstalk was a huge success.

Here are a few insights shared by the panelists:

  • Small Utah companies are critical to the industry and a robust supply chain. Small companies are more nimble and adaptive to industry changes making them vital to the industry as a whole. Helping these companies better work with the large enterprises is vital.
  • As advanced materials continue to develop, there is a need for more computational tools and data analytics. Utah is well suited to provide solutions to this challenge given our expansive data and IT sectors. The key challenge is how best to transition existing IT/big data capabilities into the study of material science data.
  • The need for a skilled and available workforce continues to increase. Better engaging our universities and tech colleges in meeting this need is the key.

The event concluded with an evening dinner and speaker sponsored by Utah SAMPE. The keynote address was delivered by Tia Benson Tolle, the Director of Advanced Materials and Fabrication for Boeing, based in Seattle.  A leader in the advanced materials industry and with an extensive in-depth background crossing the public, private and commercial sectors of the industry, Tia shared her interesting insights on the state of the industry.

In her address she emphasized that the future of advanced materials and manufacturing looks incredibly strong.  Demand will continue to rise and production costs will come down, she said.  She then shared a quote that “By… 2030 over three-quarters of all economic growth will be attributable to the development and application of advanced materials.” (Sanford L. Moskowitz- The Advanced Materials Revolution: Technology and Economic Growth in the Age of Globalization, 2009).

I agree with her and feel that the advanced materials and manufacturing industry has enormous potential.  Our goal at UAMMI is to help Utah to be the leader of it.

At the end of the day, CrossTalk turned out to be a wonderful event and one that we plan to continue holding.   We look forward to our future events and the growth of this exciting industry.


Jeff Edwards

See CrossTalk highlights and pictures here