2014 Distinguished achievement award: Michael Molnar

// Materials Science & Engineering, Mechanical Engineering

Tags: alumni, Engineers' Day, ME E-Day, Michael Molnar

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Molnar-Michael-F-100pxWMichael F. Molnar 
Director, Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office
U.S. Department of Commerce
BSME ’85, MSE ’87
Washington, DC

Although he coordinates the U.S. government’s efforts in advanced manufacturing, Mike Molnar likes to be introduced simply as “a manufacturing guy from industry.” After a 25-year industry career in advanced manufacturing, Mike took on a public role becoming the first chief manufacturing officer of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2011. He founded the NIST Advanced Manufacturing Office, which serves as liaison to industry and academia and manages new NIST extramural programs.

Molnar was also asked to be the founding director of the interagency Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (AMNPO), with a mission to foster industry-led partnerships and to form a “whole of government” approach to strengthen competitiveness and innovation in U.S. manufacturing. This interagency team is responsible for designing and establishing the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), a presidential initiative with eight pilot institutes now under formation.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UW-Madison in 1985, Molnar earned a master’s degree in manufacturing systems engineering from UW-Madison in 1987. “I was privileged to be a part of the MSE program when it was founded as an innovative and groundbreaking systems-oriented program,” Molnar says. “Today, more than ever, engineering is a team sport — interdisciplinary and collaborative — and these UW strengths served me very well in my career.” He also earned an executive MBA from the University of Notre Dame in 2002.

Molnar’s engineering passion is designing and building things — with a career in creating robotic workcells, assembly and test systems and launching state-of-the-art manufacturing plants. His experience includes leadership roles in advanced manufacturing, metrology, manufacturing systems, quality, technology development, sustainability, and industrial energy efficiency. He has served as a federal fellow in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and was elected a fellow of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). He’s very active in professional societies and currently is serving as the president of SME.

Molnar lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with his wife, Karen, and their children Jonathan, 15, Benjamin, 13, and Emily, 11. The family enjoys travel and the outdoors. As a youth, he was an Eagle Scout and Sea Explorer, and he’s proud to volunteer as assistant scoutmaster as both his sons have chosen scouting and have set their sights on earning Eagle in less time than it took their dad.