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Factories on the Frontier: Technology, Risk, and Scale in Manufacturing

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Factories on the Frontier: Technology, Risk, and Scale in Manufacturing

Ben Armstrong
Executive Director, MIT Industrial Performance Center

12:30 – 13:30 | Tuesday 9 April (light lunch provided from 12:00)
IfM Cambridge, 17 Charles Babbage Road, CB3 0FS

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There’s a growing consensus that high-wage countries like the United States need more manufacturing, whether for national security or supply chain stability or economic opportunity. It’s no longer a question of whether American factories should try to compete. It’s a question of how. This seminar will introduce three models of manufacturing excellence that have shown promise for fast growth – and competitiveness in global markets. Drawing on examples of high-growth manufacturers across industries, these models offer new approaches to technology, risk management, and vertical integration with implications for operational strategy and public policy.

Ben Armstrong is the Executive Director and a Research Scientist at MIT’s Industrial Performance Center, where he co-leads the Work of the Future initiative. His research and teaching examine how workers, firms, and regions adapt to technological change. His current projects include a working group on generative AI and its impact on jobs, as well as a book on American manufacturing competitiveness. His research has been published or featured in academic and popular outlets including the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Sloan Management Review, Times Higher Education, Boston Review, Daedalus, and Economic Development Quarterly.

Previously, Ben was a Research Fellow and Postdoctoral Research Associate at Brown University, where he studied how workers, policymakers, and the public think about automation and taught courses on technology, public policy, and capitalism. He worked with the Provost to spearhead the Brown and the Innovation Economy initiative, which developed a strategy for the university to contribute to good job growth in the region, and a faculty colloquium on the future of work. In partnership with the State of Rhode Island and others, he studied the longest autonomous vehicle public transit route in the United States to date.

Ben completed his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University and his PhD at MIT, where he received the Lucian Pye Award for Outstanding Political Science PhD Dissertation. Before graduate school, he helped lead an open-source hardware non-profit and worked at Google Inc.

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