Across Capitol Hill, many policymakers and federal agency officials understand the benefits of composites in infrastructure. ACMA’s first annual Infrastructure fly-in event in Washington, D.C. set the stage for the inclusion of language in the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) to study the viability of composites in civil and water infrastructure. Acceptance at the federal level will go a long way toward growing the market for composites.
In fall 2017, ACMA member companies and staff went back to Capitol Hill to show that not only can composites replace traditional materials in transportation structures, they can also change transportation itself. During ACMA’s annual Transportation and Defense Policy Fly-In, ACMA connected with 75 Members of Congress, their staff and key decision makers from federal agencies to advocate to grow defense and transportation markets for the composites industry.
The purpose of the event was to provide participants access to information on federal markets for composites products. As a result of the fly in, ACMA anticipates protecting funding for R&D on composites applications and continued focus on the benefits of lightweighting military and civilian vehicles and aircraft.
“As the voice of the composites industry, ACMA seeks to help our members tell their story to officials whose policies directly impact them,” said Tom Dobbins, ACMA President. “During our meetings on Capitol Hill, ACMA sent a strong message — that composite materials are best suited to keep our country safe and build vehicles that are more efficient and lightweight.”
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), the chairman of the Congressional Composites Caucus, kicked off the event by addressing how composites are transforming the defense sector. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), a former chairman of the Congressional Composites Caucus, expressed his admiration for the use of composites to improve ballistic applications, such as bulletproof vests.
Attendees at the event also had the chance to hear from a panel of experts from federal agencies. The panel included Valri Lightner from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office; Jeff Gilman from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); and Jen Vandenbrande from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
“By getting an opportunity to interact with these agency leaders, companies like ours have the opportunity to see some of the high-level government projects that involve composite materials,” said Peter Hedger Jr., Director of Marketing and Communications at Magnum Venus Products and Chairman of ACMA’s High Performance Council. “There are endless opportunities for ACMA members to raise their national profiles by helping drive government funded innovation.”