In 2011 the Obama Administration announced the Materials Genome Initiative in connection with its Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. The initiative, administered by a subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council and involving seven federal agencies, is focused on coordinating public and private sector activity in developing and commercializing new materials. Most of this effort would focus on developing the infrastructure necessary to support increased activity in developing new materials – whatever might be the next Kevlar, battery material or superconducting ceramic.
Last week the Initiative released its first Strategic Plan. The plan describes four strategic goals for the initiative, how the initiative supports various national objectives, and grand challenges in materials science. The Strategic Goals:
- Enable a Paradigm Shift in Culture – In order to reduce the time for developing new materials and transferring them to market, there will have to be shifts in how communities conduct research and development as well as the commercial activities that would use the resulting materials.
- Integrate Experiments, Computation and Theory – The integration described here is between research and development and commercial application. Ideally this integration would make it easier to identify replacements for critical materials and facilitate introducing them into manufacturing processes.
- Facilitate Access to Material Data – A suite of data repositories for materials data, with community-developed standards, can help identify gaps in data and areas of redundant research efforts.
- Equip the Next Generation Materials Workforce – The incoming workforce needs to be trained in the new skills and process encouraged by the Initiative.
Within each of the strategic goals are a series of milestones that should guide Initiative activity until the next Strategic Plan. It all reads quite well, but I’m still stuck on the use of genome in the initiative’s name. Perhaps I’m suffering from metaphor lock.