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The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), also known as Manufacturing USA, is a collective of research institutes in the United States that focuses on developing and commercializing manufacturing technologies through public-private partnerships between industry, universities, and federal agencies.
To date, 14 manufacturing innovation institutes have been established or announced. Oregon State University first joined the network in 2014 when it was chosen to be part of the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute. In the past year, OSU has been selected to join three more institutes – Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute, Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, and Rapid Advancement of Process Intensification Institute.
“A major part of the College’s strategy has been to invest in advanced manufacturing,” said Harriet Nembhard, MIME school head. “These new awards are clear evidence that MIME is now firmly positioned as a key partner in that field.”
In addition to the MIME faculty who serve as leaders and PIs in these institutes, over 300 faculty and students across MIME and College of Engineering are expected to be involved.
“The partnerships will also have a transformative impact on research and curricular innovation. They will help push our ability to prepare new engineers for 2020 and beyond,” said Nembhard
Oregon State University will be a founding academic partner in one of the newest institutes, known as the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Innovation Hub (ARM), which will be supported by $253 million from federal and matching funding. States, local governments, industry, universities, community colleges, and non-profit organizations will participate, and the U.S. Department of Defense is directing the federal effort. A primary goal is to better organize the current fragmented capabilities in robotics technology in the U.S. while preparing the nation to be more globally competitive.
Among participating academic institutions, Oregon State already has one of the nation’s leading educational and research programs in robotics.
“We’ll be leveraging our world-class robotics faculty in collaboration with our colleagues in mechanical, industrial, and manufacturing engineering, and electrical engineering and computer science,” said Bill Smart, an associate professor in the College of Engineering and one of the university’s leaders in robotics education and research.
“OSU is perfectly positioned for this institute, since it has strengths in all of the areas, and a long history of actually reaching out to and working with industry. This is squarely in Oregon State’s wheelhouse, given our long history and deep experience of working with Oregon companies on projects that bring real, tangible benefits to the local and national economies.”
ARM will conduct applied research and development; deliver education and workforce training; and create a nationwide network of “regional innovation” collaborations. Oregon State University will help lead one of those collaboratives in the Pacific Northwest.
As a partner in the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII), the College of Engineering will significantly expand its outreach and collaboration with Pacific Northwest business and industry, helping them to save energy, waste less, create jobs and become more internationally competitive.
This broad program is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, headquartered in Los Angeles and comprised of five regional centers. One of those centers is based at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and in addition to Oregon State University, its partners include, Washington State University, the University of Washington and regional industry.
“Recent growth in the College of Engineering has positioned OSU well to have a regional and national impact in smart manufacturing,” said Karl Haapala, an associate professor of manufacturing engineering, and Oregon State University
co-principal investigator of the program.
“We have new faculty hires in such areas as sensor design and fabrication, new facility investments, and growing partnerships with major regional industries. Oregon State University faculty are already undertaking leading research in advanced manufacturing, and this initiative will give us the ability to bring more of our work to the industries that can benefit from it, while giving our students the opportunity to gain experience working with industry.”
According to Matt Campbell, professor of mechanical engineering, digital manufacturing is a concept that greatly reduces physical prototypes and testing, as well as time to manufacture.
“In design, the idea is to fail early and often, so that we succeed sooner,” Campbell said. “Our digital tools will predict performance and where failure will occur, and reduce or eliminate the need for costly prototypes. Then we’ll use 3D printers and other tools to automate and streamline actual manufacturing.”
This approach, researchers say, will provide a fundamentally new way for digital information to flow among designers, suppliers, and customers, as well as to and from intelligent machines and workers on the factory floor.
The technology being created at Oregon State, and other partners in this initiative, translates almost every aspect of a mechanical system into data that can be mixed and matched in sophisticated computer systems – what a part will do, how it will perform, what materials it is made of, how much stress those materials can take before they fail, what will happen at the intersection where one component interacts with another, where failures might occur, and how those failures can be prevented.
Key industry investors in the project include General Electric, Rolls-Royce, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Lockheed Martin, Siemens, Boeing, Deere, Caterpillar, Microsoft, Illinois Tool Works and PARC. Thousands of small and mid-sized companies are also involved. And Oregon State’s research in this field, which will continue to assist regional industries, includes such companies as Daimler Trucks, Blount, PCC Structurals, ESCO, Intel, Xerox and HP.
The institute, Rapid Advancement of Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID), was announced by the U.S. Department of Energy. It will be coordinated by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Oregon State University and PNNL will lead the Module Manufacturing Focus Area within the RAPID institute, and work with chemical equipment suppliers to advance lower-cost process intensification equipment.
“The selection of OSU and our colleagues at PNNL to lead this focus area is a tribute to 15 years of commitment by state leaders, Oregon businesses, and our research universities,” said Brian Paul, the Tom and Carmen West Faculty Scholar of Manufacturing Engineering and leader of the new focus area.
“That long-term commitment is what it takes to become a national player that can advance technology with industry and create new job opportunities for Oregonians.”
The new focus area, Paul said, is an outgrowth of the collaboration between Oregon State University and PNNL through the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute which began in 2001. The success of that partnership has evolved into the Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Institute, located on the Hewlett-Packard campus in Corvallis. It focuses on the research and commercialization of advanced materials and technologies being developed within the university, in concert with research partners across Oregon and throughout the world.
“The cumulative economic impact from these industries could one day mean billions of dollars and thousands of high-wage jobs for Oregonians,” Paul said. “We are creating the building blocks for an economy with staying power and the ability to export sustainable technologies to the world.