The White House announced Sunday the The American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), set to open this spring in metro Detroit. It’s the latest hub in the Obama administration’s National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), and it’s expected to bring 10,000 jobs to the region within the next five years — no small number for an area that has repeatedly lost major manufacturing players during the recent tumultuous years for Big 3 automakers.
President Obama is expected to give more details about the institute during a speech on Tuesday. For now, it’s known that the Department of Defense will offer $70 million in federal funding over five years, along with $78 million from consortium partners. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and state of Ohio will offer another $10 million.
ALMMII is the fifth such hub in the NNMI family, and will be led by the University of Michigan, Ohio-based manufacturing technology EWI and The Ohio State University. Those will be joined by 50 other companies, universities and nonprofits from around the country, with the headquarters in Canton, Mich., and support in Columbus, Ohio. The hub’s research purposes are fairly obvious from its name: establishing an ecosystem to support the production of lightweight materials, which will make next-generation vehicles better-performing and efficient.
Xun Lin, ME PhD Student, works in the S.M. Wu Manufacturing Research Center on February 20, 2014. | Photo: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & MarketingU-M President Mary Sue Coleman said: “Through this initiative, our region will build on its core strengths to become the nation’s technology hub for lightweight materials and manufacturing. Companies from around the country will come here not only because of our technological capabilities, but also because we have the workforce they need in their efforts to revitalize and transform domestic manufacturing.”
The initiative aims to contract more than $100 million in R&D projects between educational institutions and participating private organizations. Most of the jobs it’s expected to create will be in metal stamping, metalworking, machining and casting, with about a 1:10 ratio between engineering jobs and skilled trade workers. And there’s hope it will also offer advanced training to another 1,000 current employees per year.
It could be a major boon for the region, and for an industry that, with dramatic improvement, could affect just about every aspect of American life. Many lightweight materials already exist — such as aluminum, magnesium and titanium — but the challenge will be tailoring the benefits of each to their particular application, and doing so at a large scale.
Obama's Advanced Manufacturing Partnership to meet at U-M: http://bit.ly/1jUWeDX
Charting a path to boost American manufacturing: http://bit.ly/MIk085