The New “Space” Race



The New “Space” RaceGrowing up in the era of NASA’s Apollo space program, I was fascinated with space exploration and had my sights set on becoming an astronaut. When the creative side of my brain overtook the analytic side, astronaut as a profession ceased. But my interest in outer space remained.

Fast forward to modern day, where technology and the speed of change have dramatically altered rockets and space exploration (the first all civilian crew and William Shatner being launched into space, civilian-made rockets, etc.), as well as the manufacturing industry.

Here’s a good example of the intersection of space and manufacturing. I was intrigued in a recent Board of Directors meeting here when Tom Kelly, Executive Director of Automation Alley, shared a story about a 3D printed rocket being made in California. A company called Relativity Space has fused 3D printing, artificial intelligence and autonomous robotics to print its rockets’ “structure and engines, significantly reducing touch points and lead times, simplifying the supply chain and increasing overall system reliability.” Using 100x fewer parts than a traditional rocket and able to complete a full build within 60 days, Relativity Space is developing an entirely new and advanced model for production that could dramatically alter the aerospace industry.

Other areas of manufacturing aren’t immune from technology advances either. The conversion from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles clearly will have an enormous impact on automotive companies, which is a discussion for a future blog. In the meantime, it’s important for manufacturers to innovate and seek new ways of staying viable and competitive in a constantly changing “space.”

While my role with The Center isn’t the same as being an astronaut, it has given me opportunities to be involved with our Industry 4.0 team to explore innovation and technology while educating and supporting our clients.

At the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, our mission is to work with our state’s small and medium-size manufacturers to adapt, to prosper and to understand how technology can improve their business. We currently are conducting a free Technology Opportunity Assessment to identify areas where Industry 4.0 technology implementations can generate a return on investment, thanks to support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. To learn more, visit our website at or contact us at

In the ever-evolving industry landscape, The Center has developed innovative classes to assist manufacturers in better understanding the benefits of Industry 4.0 technology for successful implementation in their business. Learn about our Industry 4.0 courses here


Jeff SchultzJeff Schultz,
 Director of Marketing
Jeff joined the marketing and communications team at The Center in 2016. With more than 20 years of experience, he is responsible for managing the marketing team and ensuring the successful completion of strategic communication initiatives as part of the organization’s Management Team. Jeff started his career with three prominent public relations firms before transitioning to a corporate communications role prior to The Center. Jeff earned his BA in English and Communication from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at

Categories: Advanced Manufacturing, Industry 4.0, Innovation, The Center, U.S. Manufacturing