On August 5 the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) hosted an event in conjunction with AIM Higher partners Carnegie Mellon University, the ARM Institute, and Catalyst Connection to connect with the regional Department of Defense (DoD) supply chain. The focus of the event was to better understand the Army, namely the Artificial Intelligence Integration Center (AI2C) within the Army Futures Command, as a customer. The overarching theme for the event was around the Research & Development supply chain within the Pittsburgh area in supporting the AI and autonomous systems projects led by the Army, however, there was also significant discussion around engaging with manufacturers when it comes to prototyping efforts and beyond. Long story short, manufacturers should stay tuned as these budding relationships develop and aim to drive regional manufacturer engagement in the DoD supply chain.
In discussions with both the Textron Vice President of Land Systems, David Phillips, and the head of Finance and Business Operations at AI2C, Ruben Cruz, the same message on the potential for regional manufacturers came through. Both are interested in furthering engagement and looking for opportunities to connect with regional suppliers. Additionally, there was agreement on one of the best ways for manufacturers to break into the DoD: prototyping. That is an ideal fit for many small and medium contract manufacturers that excel at lower volume jobs. A company who successfully proves their capabilities on prototyping projects can sometimes transition into production work as well.
The AIM Higher Consortium will continue to develop these potential channels to DoD opportunities and will provide updates through the AIM Higher website and newly launched Supplier Capabilities Database. Stay tuned!