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RMU Joins Winning Bid for U.S. Manufacturing Pilot Program

Thursday, August 16, 2012

 rmuusmanfprogThe White House named the winning bid in a $70 million plan to create a public-private institute for manufacturing innovation today, and Robert Morris University's School of Engineering, Math, and Science is part of the team that won.

The National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) is a network of nine research universities including RMU, 40 companies, five community colleges, and 11 nonprofit organizations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, led by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) in Latrobe, Pa. The initial three-year plan calls for $30 million in federal funding, matched by $40 million in contributions from the winning consortium partners. NAMII will open its research hub in a renovated building in Youngstown, Ohio, in September.

RMU's portion of the initiative, valued at approximately $700,000 in government grants and RMU in-kind contributions, will involve research, education, and workforce development and training at the university's laboratories. RMU's laboratories are equipped with 3-D printing equipment, and the university's B.S. in manufacturing engineering is the only one in Pennsylvania accredited by ABET Inc. Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh are the other Pittsburgh universities involved in the institute.

"The most important impact this grant will have is the national recognition of RMU Engineering, and the benefit it brings to students, faculty, and alumns," said Maria Kalevitch, dean of the School of Engineering, Math, and Science.

The institute will develop technologies for additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing -- building prototypes and products quickly by "printing" them layer-by-layer with metal, polymers, plastics, or other substances. Additive manufacturing technologies hold the promise of enabling quick construction of a variety of products and parts to order, more quickly and more cheaply than in a factory. Defense and aerospace industries are likely to be the first beneficiaries of thetechnology, though it is expected to spread to other sectors of the economy as the institute develops technologies that can be commercialized.

In March, President Barack Obama announced a plan to create a national network of up to 15 manufacturing innovation institutes around the country. The Department of Defense received 13 bids to create the first institute as a pilot project. Officials from the Department of Defense and Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank announced the selection of NCDMM in Youngstown.

Robert Morris University, founded in 1921, is a private, four-year institution with an enrollment of approximately 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university offers 60 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. An estimated 22,000 alumni live and work in western Pennsylvania.