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UTEP Research Centers Announce Expansion Plans in Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Two research centers at the University of Texas at El Paso plan to expand here as a part of America Makes’ Advanced Manufacturing and Applied Research Innovation Institute, or Amarii, officials say.

The effort would allow UTEP’s W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation and the NASA MIRO Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research to collaborate with Youngstown State University and local companies.

“This is all part of the Amarii initiative,” says Barb Ewing, CEO of The Youngstown Business Incubator, which houses America Makes. “The creation of the innovation institute is intended to facilitate these kinds of investments.”

Officials from America Makes announced last Thursday the establishment of Amarii, a new sister organization that connects regional partners with potential funding sources such as the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, the Office of Economic Adjustment, and state and local agencies.

The UTEP projects would be focused on advanced manufacturing, aerospace and defense technologies, according to an announcement posted on UTEP’s website. The partnership between UTEP, YSU and America Makes will focus on developing new additive manufacturing and hypersonic technologies while also help boost opportunities for the region’s tech-based businesses and defense manufacturing suppliers.

John Wilczynski, executive director of America Makes, said the partnership with UTEP presents new opportunities for the university and local businesses to pursue work with the defense industry.

“UTEP has strength in additive manufacturing and hypersonics,” he said.

The hypersonics segment is expected to be a high-growth sector of the defense industry, Wilczynski said. The UTEP collaboration helps position the Mahoning Valley and northeastern Ohio to secure lucrative business in areas such as the development of new missile systems, he added.

“There is quite a bit of investment expected,” Wilczynski said, noting that hypersonics is among the top three priorities currently before the defense department.

Business opportunities in the future are not limited to companies that use additive manufacturing, but also employ conventional methods of manufacturing as well, he said.

“We want to get the region positioned to land manufacturers here,” Wilczynski said. “This UTEP partnership makes a stronger case.”

America Makes, which is overseen by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining, was the first of seven advanced manufacturing hubs established by the Obama administration in 2012.  America Makes fosters partnerships in the private and public sectors to develop new technologies and improvements in manufacturing through 3D printing.

“The presence of Youngstown State University and America Makes in Youngstown presents a tremendous opportunity for us to collaborate with world-class additive manufacturing experts,” Ryan Wicker, professor and director of UTEP’s Keck Center, said in a statement.

UTEP was designated as the first America Makes satellite center in 2015. 

“I believe the El Paso and Youngstown areas are poised to become leaders in hypersonic technologies, and we are very enthusiastic about establishing a footprint in Youngstown to work jointly with YSU and local advanced manufacturing businesses,” said Ahsan Choudhuri, associate vice president for aerospace center and founding director of cSETR. 

Ewing said that U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan’s, D-13, position as vice chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee could prove an invaluable asset to the growth of Amarii and the new partnership with UTEP. 

“I don’t think the Mahoning Valley understands the value of a congressman who is No. 2 on defense appropriations,” she said.

Pictured: UTEP’s W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation and the NASA MIRO Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research have announced plans to open a unit in Youngstown, Ohio, to create a joint presence for collaborative opportunities with Youngstown State University and the region’s business community focused on advanced manufacturing, aerospace and defense technologies. Photo: UTEP Communications

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.