YSU, Partners Secure $10M For Advanced Manufacturing Initiative

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A partnership between Youngstown State University, the University of Northern Iowa and the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining will leverage $10 million in funding to increase the number of small-to-midsize enterprises using advanced technologies, officials announced Tuesday.

The initiative would also bolster critical areas of the defense manufacturing supply chain and create jobs, stakeholders say. 

The partnership would provide hundreds of businesses each year with support to remove barriers to adopting Industry 4.0 technologies, enabling a faster output of quality parts while expanding and strengthening the supply chain. Those technologies include robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing.

“Implementation of Industry 4.0 practices in advanced manufacturing is a crucial element for maintaining a strong Defense Industrial Base,” Randy Gilmore, vice president and chief development officer at NCDMM, said on the significance of this project. “NCDMM and America Makes are proud to be a part of the project team and to have the opportunity to play an essential role in this effort.”

The initiative is designed to address numerous challenges manufacturers face in adopting Industry 4.0 technologies. Among them are the aging workforce confronting short- and long-term work shortages and prohibitive costs that cause manufacturers to forgo upgrading to the new technologies.

Project funding allows UNI and YSU to grow their outreach to small-to-midsize employers and provide industry-tailored training in automation, robotics and Industry 4.0 topics. These employers would have access to leading technologies in world-class facilities.  

The initiative would also provide services to help manufacturers adopt new technologies. Direct one-to-one assistance will focus on developing a business strategy. Training events and webinars will also be offered on a regular basis.

Jackie Ruller, director of advanced manufacturing research and commercialization at YSU, said the partnership would leverage resources such as YSU’s Excellence Training Center at Kohli Hall. “We will be working with small- to medium-size businesses throughout the Midwest and East Coast to increase adoption of Industry 4.0 through research, commercialization and new workforce training solutions,” she said. 

The project combines training and applied research with assistance to re-skill the existing workforce, prepare the next generation of our state’s and nation’s workforce and help company owners create a financial and strategic plan for investing in and managing these technologies, said Andrew Morse, chief of staff at UNI. 

“It will save existing jobs, create new jobs and help fortify our nation’s leading position in the global manufacturing supply chain,” he said. 

The project was made possible through competitive funding secured by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13, through his seat on the House Defense Subcommittee on Appropriations.

“From Youngstown, Ohio, to Cedar Falls, Iowa, we are on the verge of the next great age of manufacturing in America, but that only happens by making robust investments in our workforce to bring our supply chain back home,” Ryan said in a statement.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.