Ohio State to get up to $52 million to establish advanced manufacturing research center

·3 min read

Ohio State University has been awarded up to $52 million in federal funding to develop autonomous manufacturing systems and workforce development, one of the university's largest research investments in the last decade.

Ohio State will lead the multi-institutional engineering research center and partner with Case Western Reserve University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Northwestern University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as well as more than 70 industry, educational and technical organizations.
Ohio State will lead the multi-institutional engineering research center and partner with Case Western Reserve University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Northwestern University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as well as more than 70 industry, educational and technical organizations.

The National Science Foundation announced funding Wednesday for the creation of the Hybrid Autonomous Manufacturing, Moving from Evolution to Revolution (HAMMER) Engineering Research Center. The first round of funding will last for five years at $26 million, with the ability to renew for another $26 million for an additional five years.

Autonomous manufacturing leans heavily on robotics, artificial intelligence and other advanced technology.

Ohio State will lead the multi-institutional engineering research center and partner with Case Western Reserve University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Northwestern University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as well as more than 70 industry, educational and technical organizations.

Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson said the "transformational" investment is about more than just research.

“It’s about enhancing U.S. innovation and reclaiming our nation’s position as a leader in domestic manufacturing,” Johnson said. “We must invest in both American-made products and our local workforce to safeguard against future supply chain challenges and ensure we remain at the forefront of technological advancements that will transform the way we do business and improve our lives.”

Autonomous manufacturing: Research center will prepare engineers of the future

HAMMER will use basic, applied and translational research to develop and deploy intelligent autonomous manufacturing systems. The new research center and its partner network will also have a focus on developing the next crop of engineers. Partnerships with industry, educational and technical organizations will enable HAMMER to train personnel at many levels from pre-college to practicing engineers.

The new research center will also help create jobs, train a new and diverse engineering workforce, and ease supply chain issues by focusing on building up American industry, according to a university press release.

Glenn Daehn, the Mars G. Fontana Professor of Metallurgical Engineering at Ohio State's College of Engineering, will serve as the director of the center.

“HAMMER is one of the most significant, high-impact, large-scale research centers to be established at Ohio State. It will advance the current state of manufacturing technologies by uniting design, tools, intelligence and computational materials engineering into a single framework and providing new opportunities to commercialize research,” said Grace Wang, executive vice president of research, innovation and knowledge at Ohio State. “This will enable the agile production of new components in ways that are not now attainable, and with systems that allow for rapid customization and high-quality performance.”

In addition to the collaboration with the four partner universities, Ohio State's College of Arts and Sciences, College of Medicine and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs will join the College of Engineering in support of HAMMER.

“The NSF investment affirms the visionary direction of Ohio State, as well as engineering’s prominence in AI and robotics,” said Ayanna Howard, dean of Ohio State's College of Engineering. “We are committed to paving the way to a reimagined future that builds upon a culture of diversity and inclusion, strong workforce development efforts and an expanding innovation ecosystem. Most importantly, this collaboration will help catapult revolutionary ideas while training our most valuable asset, talented students.”

Sheridan Hendrix is a higher education reporter at the Columbus Dispatch. You can reach her at shendrix@dispatch.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @sheridan120.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State to lead new manufacturing research center