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Patrick excited about AMP and its impact on region’s manufacturers

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a two-part series about Oak Ridge’s Buzz Patrick. and the beginning of a multi-part series on the region’s new Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping Center of East Tennessee.)

Buzz Patrick says he did not ask his wife’s opinion before telling Tech 20/20’s John Morris that “I’m in” when the latter approached him about leading the Advanced Manufacturing and Prototyping Center of East Tennessee (AMP!).

“Admittedly, I thought the chances were less than 50-50 that we would win,” Patrick says of the team that applied for the multi-agency federal grants. Not only did the consortium win, but it also received the largest amount – nearly $2.4 million – among the 10 awards made nationally. The team includes Tech 20/20, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC), and the University of Tennessee’s Center for Industrial Services (UT CIS).

For Patrick, serving as Director of Advanced Manufacturing for Tech 20/20 and coordinating the AMP! team was a natural fit. It combined his self-stated desire to “build something” with his love for his community and his recognition that Oak Ridge needs to diversify its economy.

It also added another job to his growing portfolio that included a “greatly reduced role” at Omega Technical Services, as well as leading his own manufacturing start-up, The MĀK Group, and “keeping books for his wife’s construction company that is growing like mad.” He left Omega earlier this month.

“We’re focused on process innovation for manufacturers,” Patrick says about the overall AMP! project that has very distinct components.

  • Tech 20/20 provides overall coordination as well as building two consortia, launching a series of manufacturing boot camps, and serving as the not-for-profit home for the annual Smoky Mountain Regional FIRST Robotics Competition for high school students. Tech 20/20 is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Energy, and Economic Development Administration.
  • ORNL will make its world class Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) available to manufacturers for prototyping and other services through funding provided by the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Pellissippi State will develop and launch a certificate program for additive manufacturing, a key emerging manufacturing area. PSCC’s efforts are funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • UT CIS will offer workshops for manufacturers in the 20-count AMP! region to understand how to establish an Innovation Management System and work more extensively with two or three of these companies each year on their systems. UT CIS is funded by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology.

“The driver of all this is going to be R-AMP . . . it’s our biggest focus, as it is critical to our overall success,” Patrick says of a Tech 20/20 responsibility. R-AMP stands for Regional AMP!, a consortium of manufacturers from the 20 counties who are the target customer.

With his long-time tenure in manufacturing, Patrick knows the challenges that the team faces in engaging Plant Managers. “Their day in and day out focus is running the facility,” he explains. “We’ve got to provide them something of value to get them out of the plant.”

He believes they will succeed by scheduling R-AMP! events in other manufacturing facilities so they are viewed as benchmarking opportunities.

“There’s always something to learn,” Patrick says from firsthand experience. “If R-AMP! doesn’t work, AMP! will not succeed with developing the Advanced Manufacturing Cluster in our region.”

Tech 20/20 will also work with ORNL to launch a Council for Additive Manufacturing in the Southeast. Patterned along the lines of the Oak Ridge Carbon Fiber Composites Consortium, the Council will focus on larger manufacturers. And, just like the carbon fiber group has a strong interest in ORNL research and the new Carbon Fiber Demonstration Facility, the Council is expected to be drawn to ORNL’s MDF.

Another component of the Tech 20/20 portion of AMP! is a series of boot camps in three of the region’s most disadvantaged counties. Two have been selected – Scott in 2013 and Morgan in 2014. The county for 2015 will be decided at a later date.

Patrick explained that each boot camp will involve managers from 10 companies who will participate in an extensive set of workshops and one-on-one counseling to strengthen their existing operations through the use of advanced manufacturing processes.

Finally, Tech 20/20 will become the not-for-profit home for the rapidly growing regional FIRST robotics competition held each March. Patrick sees the event expanding throughout the state, and the partners adding the “AMP! Innovation Challenge” where Pellissippi State students will have an opportunity to solve real-world problems for R-AMP members.

In the seven years he has lived in his adopted hometown, Patrick has already made a difference, but AMP! presents a real opportunity to expand the geographic reach and economic impact.

NEXT: A series of articles about the roles of the various AMP! partners.

The AMP! webpage is www.amptn.com.

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