Pittsburgh (CNN) -- President Barack Obama -- whose poll numbers have dipped in recent weeks amid a stubbornly sluggish economic recovery -- touted the hard-hit manufacturing sector Friday, saying the country's best production days may well lie ahead.
"We are inventors, we are makers, and we are doers. If we want a robust growing economy, we need a robust manufacturing sector," Obama told a crowd at Carnegie Mellon University, the school founded by steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie nearly 100 years ago.
The president's speech followed a tour through the National Robotics Engineering Center at Carnegie Mellon, which the White House describes as a national effort to encourage investment from industry, universities, and the federal government in emerging manufacturing technologies.
"This partnership is about new cutting edge ideas to create new jobs, spark new breakthroughs, reinvigorate American manufacturing today, right now. Not some day off in the future," Obama said.
Among the new technologies the president saw Friday was a robotic pipe inspection that independently navigates through waste-water pipes and new modeling and simulation software created by Proctor and Gamble that the company is releasing free of charge to small and mid-sized manufacturers.
That Obama is touting jobs in Pennsylvania is no accident. That perennial battleground state is again expected to play a key role in 2012 and the president's approval rating stands at a wobbly 48% there.