Last weekend, the Applied Science & Technology Research Organization (ASTRO) America, a 501(c)(3) think tank, held a two-day additive manufacturing (AM) workshop at Florida State University’s (FSU’s) Panama City campus, in northwest Florida. In addition to its providing an opportunity for workforce training, the event also served to help launch AM Forward Florida (AMF-FL), a pilot program for the Biden administration’s AM Forward initiative.

Announced by President Biden in May 2022, AM Forward is a voluntary compact between seven of the US’s largest manufacturers aiming to accelerate the standardization of AM for the US domestic economy. In May 2023, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded ASTRO America $1 million via the NSF Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) program. That funding facilitated both the workshop as well as the pilot program, as a whole.

FSU is one of five Florida universities that ASTRO is working with for AMF-FL. ASTRO is planning at least two more workshops in collaboration with its academic partners.

ASTRO America president Neal Orringer at the Pentagon

In a press release about ASTRO America’s launch of AMF-FL with its FSU workshop, the president of ASTRO America, Neal Orringer, said, “Our focus was on how to fill up a 3D printing or [AM] ecosystem to support the growth of aerospace, defense and 3D printing. The Panhandle in Panama City was an excellent place to begin to develop this kind of ecosystem all across Northern Florida. We believe that Florida has the right building blocks to do this kind of development.”

Farrukh Alvi, the associate provost for innovation, research & entrepreneurship at FSU, said, “The workshop was to identify what the opportunities are in North Florida. We want to attract more resources to the region. We wanted to bring together all of the stakeholders and identify all of their challenges, needs, and start coming up with a concrete plan to address these things.”

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