Offshoring hit Erica Fuchs’s hometown hard: Reading, Pennsylvania, a former symbol of industrial power, was the nation’s poorest city in 2011. Now Fuchs researches how a manufacturer’s location—in the United States or abroad—affects product development and U.S. competitiveness.
“Growing up in Reading definitely influenced my priorities with respect to thinking about the intimate consequences that global shifts in the technical and industrial landscape can have in the daily lives of people—in my own community and communities like it around the world,” says Fuchs, an associate professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.
Her research was recognized in September when she was named a “Top 40 under 40 Young Scientist” by the World Economic Forum. She was part of early discussions held by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology that led to the creation of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a national effort currently cochaired by MIT president Rafael Reif to bring more high-tech manufacturing jobs to the United States. She also serves on the U.S. Advisory Committee to the International Commission for Optics.
At MIT, Fuchs studied materials science and engineering before earning a master’s degree in technology policy and a PhD in engineering systems. She traveled to China under the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative (MISTI) as a fellow with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. There, she visited state-run boiler manufacturers across the country, researching the factors that led to innovation.
Back at MIT, in the Materials Systems Lab and the Industrial Performance Center, she studied how national differences in production, regulation, and other areas might enhance innovation and economic growth.
“MIT proved a phenomenal place to grow up, both personally and academically,” says Fuchs. “MIT’s emphasis on never taking oneself too seriously, combined with brutal academic honesty in search of greater truth, are values I continue to carry with me to this day. Within this unique culture, I found lifelong friends, mentors, and colleagues.”
At home in Pittsburgh, Fuchs has plenty of reminders of MIT, including her husband, David Andersen, SM ’01, PhD ’05. They met at Carnegie Mellon, where he’s an associate professor of computer science, but they had many friends and interests in common at MIT. In separate years, each ran the MIT Outing Club’s winter mountaineering school. Now they’re passing their love of climbing on to their daughter, Aria Andersen-Fuchs. At 20 months, she’s already accompanied her parents to a peak over 10,000 feet tall.
10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024
Every year, we look for promising technologies poised to have a real impact on the world. Here are the advances that we think matter most right now.
The worst technology failures of 2023
The Titan submersible, lab-grown chicken, and GM’s wayward Cruise robotaxis made our annual list of the worst in tech.
AI for everything: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024
Generative AI tools like ChatGPT reached mass adoption in record time, and reset the course of an entire industry.
Scientists are finding signals of long covid in blood. They could lead to new treatments.
Faults in a certain part of the immune system might be at the root of some long covid cases, new research suggests.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.