Higher profile for women in defense industry

Jennifer Tisdale

Friday, November 9, 2018

Michigan’s reputation growing as ‘Arsenal of Innovation’

Once famously known as the heart of the Arsenal of Democracy during World War II, Michigan has reinvented its place in the U.S. defense industry, and women are playing a prominent role in that development.

With the emergence of defense-industry businesses, the state’s new title, “Arsenal of Innovation,” is a natural designation considering the state’s long heritage of manufacturing ingenuity. Central to the transformation of the state’s reputation is the role of Women in Defense, a strategic organization that provides networking and business opportunities to women at all levels in the defense industry.

The impact of Women in Defense has led to the attraction of advanced tech firms, including GRIMM, a cyber engineering and research firm dedicated to securing the future of mobility for their commercial and government clients.

Michigan’s leading role in providing the resources for the nation’s defense is aligned closely with many of assets that make the state the preeminent location as the global automotive capitol. As connected and autonomous vehicle technologies position the automotive industry to revolutionize the way we work, live and move, those same technologies are being adapted in the defense industry.

U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), located in Warren, Michigan, leads R&D innovation for the development of autonomous technologies for military ground vehicles.  The merging of mobility into both the automotive and defense industries in Michigan is crucial to sustained economic growth, and this progress is ensured by leading industry organizations such as Women in Defense and others.

During WWII, Ford Motor Company’s automated assembly line was used for the mass production of the B-24 bomber at Willow Run, solidifying Detroit’s place in history as part of the Arsenal of Democracy. Today, Michigan’s defense and auto industries are closely bound as pioneers in the development of driverless and unmanned systems.

Though their respective interests may differ, the fundamental technologies, research and suppliers are often the same enabling these industries to collaborate and create a robust and diverse defense industry that benefits from the innovations from automotive and aerospace industries.

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