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Federal grant will foster innovation, growth of region’s manufacturers
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – West Virginia’s Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI) is a partner in a major federal investment that will establish the nation’s first Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute under the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI).
The new initiative, which will receive $30 million in federal funds, is designed to connect industry, universities, community colleges, federal agencies and states together to jumpstart manufacturing innovation and foster the nation’s economic growth. RCBI’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centers will be key components of this initiative. With a 50/50 match, the three-year project totals more than $60 million.
The new initiative was announced today in Youngstown, Ohio, by Gene Sperling, the President’s National Economic Council Director; Rebecca Blank, the Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce; Frank Kendall, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, and Brett B. Lambert, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy.
“RCBI is pleased to join with 40 dynamic partners for this extraordinary opportunity,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI Director and CEO. This regional team includes major universities such as Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, the University of Akron, Youngstown State and Kent State; businesses; community and technical colleges; research facilities and government agencies. The National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) will serve as the lead for the Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania regionally concentrated team.
“This federal funding renews our fight for American manufacturing jobs and serves as a significant national stamp of approval for RCBI. As part of this new multi-state workforce and industry hub, RCBI is helping chart a new direction for the workhorse of the American economy, our manufacturing industry,” said Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.
“RCBI brings its proven technology, tools and talent to a larger table to help train America’s next generation of manufacturing workers for a greater competitive edge in the global marketplace,” Rahall said. “Some current trends show American manufacturers are returning their operations to our shores. RCBI’s training and operational capabilities in flexible manufacturing, especially in the promising additive manufacturing process I have watched in operation, provide extra incentive to reinvest in West Virginia workers.”
“Additive manufacturing has the potential to reduce start-up costs and speed up prototyping,” said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. “It presents a great opportunity for this country’s manufacturing sector. This is an enormous opportunity for West Virginia to create new jobs, expand the innovative manufacturing strength of our country and enhance the future of our citizens. It demonstrates strong confidence in West Virginia, our capability to innovate and the ability of our workforce to prepare for today’s more technological workplace. We commend the collaborative approach that RCBI and its many partners took to apply for and win this award. That same teamwork will enable our public, private and educational sectors to combine our strengths to successfully carry out this multi-dimensional program.”
The purpose of this new institute will be to accelerate the development, integration, evaluation and exploitation of efficient/rapid/flexible additive manufacturing technology for commercial manufacturing. With that goal in mind, the partners will conduct extensive outreach to businesses for the open exchange of additive manufacturing information, design tools, shared manufacturing equipment options, demonstration, process improvement and energy/cost efficiency.
“West Virginia has a strong history of manufacturing and developing new technologies, and it’s only appropriate that our state continues to help lead the way with a groundbreaking new program to guarantee that America is making the best, most innovative products, and putting more people back to work. I applaud the Obama Administration for putting together such an innovative, forward looking program,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller. D-W.Va.
“Over the past two years, I have convened several manufacturing roundtables with West Virginia workers and business owners, held three Congressional hearings – including one in West Virginia – on the future of manufacturing, and introduced or supported a dozen bills that would help create jobs and boost manufacturing in the state – including bills to train American workers in emerging manufacturing fields and help American manufacturers stay competitive, and others to end tax breaks for companies that send jobs to foreign countries. We can’t sit and watch American jobs get shipped overseas. With this new institute, and help from the four key West Virginia partners, we can work to keep our manufacturing center competitive and bring jobs back to the United States.”
“The people of West Virginia and I believe that now is the time to start rebuilding America by creating good American jobs right here at home, and I am pleased that this project will take a step in that direction,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is the cosponsor of the Rebuild America Jobs Act. “We need to take advantage of regional opportunities to work together to save and create good jobs in the manufacturing sector. I’ve been proud to support countless efforts to help this important industry and will continue to work with leaders on both sides of the aisle to address the loss of manufacturing jobs and our trade imbalance. I’ve always said that West Virginians are some of the hardest working people in the world, who can compete with anyone in the world – as long as the playing field is fair.”
“The proven expertise of RCBI and the resources that this grant will provide are a powerful combination in terms of promoting the development of innovative and expansive applications of additive manufacturing technology,” said Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp. “RCBI and Marshall have a rich history of strong collaborations that have advanced business solutions, which have fostered businesses growth and economic development. The new opportunities provided by RCBI’s additive manufacturing technology capabilities continue to fuel our robust partnership and inspire tremendous pride.”
“RCBI will be a key player in this partnership because our centers provide the region’s manufacturers – small and large – with a unique set of offerings of shared manufacturing equipment availability, additive manufacturing expertise and 3D design technology,” Weber said. “With our Design Works labs in Charleston and Huntington and our Advanced Composites Technology & Production Center in Bridgeport, RCBI is a valuable resource for the region’s business and industry to access affordable design and production options in additive manufacturing technology.”
Utilizing its statewide Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centers and skilled instructors, RCBI will leverage its extensive education and training programs to provide degree and certification programs, workforce training and on-the-job training that are specific to additive manufacturing. RCBI also will participate in the development of “cradle to career” additive manufacturing educational programs for STEM students K-12 through college.
In addition to RCBI, West Virginia is represented by other strong partners in this new initiative. FMW Composite Systems Inc., of Bridgeport, W.Va., brings a wealth of resources – state-of-the-art equipment, facilities, composites expertise and an ongoing drive for research and innovation. Touchstone Research Laboratory in Triadelphia, W.Va., has a history of research and development that has made it a top 100 leader in innovation for the past four years. All involved will work closely with the National Energy Technology Lab in Morgantown.
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