Convergence HTF: From Making to Micro-Manufacture: Reimagining Work Beyond Mass Production Grant uri icon


  • Intelligent, interactive, and highly networked machines --with which people increasingly share their autonomy and agency--are a growing part of the landscape, particularly in regard to work. As automation today moves from the factory floor to knowledge and service occupations, insight and action are needed to reap the benefits in increased productivity and increased job opportunities, and to mitigate social costs. The workshop supported by this award will promote the convergence of multiple fields of inquiry from Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Design, Economics, the Social Sciences, Industrial Engineering and Education to define key challenges and research imperatives of the nexus of humans, technology, and work. Convergence is the deep integration of knowledge, theories, methods, and data from multiple fields to form new and expanded frameworks for addressing scientific and societal challenges and opportunities. This convergence workshop addresses the future of work at the human-technology frontier.The specific focus of this workshop is to foster a discussion about the re-conceptualization of wealth creation in economically distressed areas by enabling the production of high quality manufactured goods at scales of hundreds and thousands in many distributed locations, but in an effective and sustainable manner. This approach, called "Micro-Manufacture," is grounded in technological advances that facilitate customized production of artifacts (e.g., 3D printing, the Internet; mobile devices, etc.). The workshop aims at initiating a discussion about the feasibility of the micro-manufacturing model. The workshop will also explore the interplay between Maker-based innovation and the engineering processes of Micro-Manufacture. To initiate the Micro-Manufacturing discussion, the perspectives of multiple science, technology, educational and societal interests need to be included. In particular, it is expected that research questions emanating from the workshop will require the deep integration of more than one discipline, from supply chain modeling and product design, to economics, sociology and education, to name only a few. The expected outcomes of the workshop will include the formation of a community of researchers with ideas that cross-cut fields to address Micro-Manufacture; an understanding of how the multiple related research areas interact and the research that is needed to enable Micro-Manufacture; and a publication in the form of a collected volume to inform the research community and broader society of the need, possibility, and challenges relating to Micro-Manufacture. The broader impacts accrue mainly from its potential to address society''s pressing need for new configurations of work that may bring employment to a broader range of workers.

date/time interval

  • 2017 - 2020