Dr. Dean Bartles: Manufacturing Innovation and Empowering SMEs

Dr. Dean Bartles: Manufacturing Innovation and Empowering SMEs
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In the field of driving innovation, only a few individuals have left an impact, like Dr. Dean Bartles. With a career of over four decades, Dr. Bartles has consistently integrated cutting-edge technology into the manufacturing industry. As the CEO and founder of the Manufacturing Technology Deployment Group (MTDG), he has grown small and medium-sized manufacturers while leading initiatives that connect academia and industry.

From Aerospace to Advancing Manufacturing

Dr. Bartles’ journey began in the aerospace and defense industry, where he gained experience and insights that helped him in his future goals. Starting off as an industrial engineer at Fairchild Republic Company, he quickly rose through the ranks, later joining General Dynamics Corporation. During his 30-year tenure at General Dynamics, he looked after the establishment and management of manufacturing operations around the world, from Egypt to Turkey and the United States. Under his leadership, his Strategic Business Unit within General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems sales increased from $135 million to $600 million between 2001 and 2014.

Empowering SMEs and Collaborations

One of Dr. Bartles’ enduring passions lies in empowering small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMEs) to thrive in an era of technological evolution. This commitment motivated him to co-found the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII) as its founding Executive Director. DMDII, an initiative initiated during President Barack Obama’s administration, became a huge collaboration between industry and academia. Dr. Bartles’ leadership helped build a $16.5 million facility renovation project, aiming for over $80 million in research projects.

Beyond DMDII, Dr. Bartles’ influence also affected numerous leaders. His presidency at SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers) and North American Manufacturing Research Institute (NAMRI) reflected his dedication to advancing the education and practices of manufacturing professionals. He brought his extensive experience to the University of New Hampshire, where he served as the Director of the John Olson Advanced Manufacturing Center, offering a helping hand to the next generation of manufacturing leaders.

Redefining the Future

Dr. Bartles’ contributions go beyond traditional manufacturing systems, introducing groundbreaking concepts such as Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing, and advanced robotics. His forward-thinking approach to digital manufacturing and model-based enterprise shows his role as a true visionary. He also earned multiple advanced degrees, including a Doctorate in Business Administration and a second Ph.D. in Technology Management, showcasing his commitment to bridging the gap between academia and practice.

In May 2019, Dr. Bartles earned the role of President and CEO of the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), further spreading his influence within the industry. His leadership has led NCDMM to nearly 300% growth in annual revenue in four short years and inaugurated Advanced Manufacturing International (AMI), a subsidiary of MTDG.

Dr. Bartles’ passion was cultivated during his upbringing in Hagerstown, MD. This environment brought out the values of craftsmanship, precision, and dedication that became the main foundation of his professional journey. This early exposure propelled him into the aerospace and defense industry, where he flourished his skills as an industrial engineer. Dr. Bartles’ hands-on experience and his academic pursuits gave him a unique perspective on the interplay between theory and practice in the manufacturing domain.

A Committed Visionary

Dr. Bartles’ leadership extends beyond organizational roles, laying a broader vision for a connected manufacturing ecosystem. His support for Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing comes from a belief in the transformative power of technology to enhance productivity and innovation. Throughout his tenure at organizations like UI Labs and MTDG, he emphasized the importance of collaboration, bringing together diverse stakeholders, including businesses, academic institutions, and government bodies. By developing these partnerships, he has produced the development of research projects, educational initiatives, and practical solutions that bridge the gap between traditional manufacturing practices and the digital frontier.

Dr. Dean Bartles’ journey from his father’s humble machine shop to becoming a driving force in manufacturing innovation is an example of his dedication and curiosity. His leadership in various organizations, his advocacy for SMEs, and his role in shaping the future of manufacturing technology have left a prominent mark. As an entrepreneur, educator, and advocate, Dr. Bartles continues to inspire, educate, and transform the manufacturing sector, ensuring that the legacy of innovation burns brightly for generations to come.


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