Rochester Institute of Technology’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability (GIS) today received a $495,608 grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to help accelerate the growth of advanced manufacturing and increase the competitiveness of the remanufacturing industry in the United States.
The grant will support industry-driven consortia in developing research plans and charting collaborative actions to solve high-priority technology challenges in the manufacturing industry.
NIST’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Program awarded 16 grants totaling $7.8 million to universities and other nonprofit organizations in 11 states and the District of Columbia. The grants range from $413,000 to $500,000 for a period of up to two years.
“We are very appreciative and proud once again that our legislative leaders in Senators Charles Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter have recognized the significant impacts that our university has in the areas of sustainable and advanced manufacturing,” said RIT President Bill Destler. “Today’s funding further recognizes RIT’s role in providing a path toward innovation and productivity growth in both established and emerging U.S. manufacturing industries.”
Slaughter noted that “Rochester has an important role in reinvigorating our manufacturing, particularly in advanced manufacturing, like optics and photonics.”
“This grant greatly enhances our chance to expand and rebuild the local economy, and I congratulate RIT,” she added.
RIT to build “technology roadmap”
The NIST grant will enable GIS and its partner, Energetics Inc.—based in Columbia, Md., with satellite offices in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va.—to guide the formation of a consortium and the development of “a technology roadmap” to expand and advance the capabilities and competitiveness of the remanufacturing industry.
“Addressing the technology challenges facing the $43 billion remanufacturing industry will have substantive national impact, including supporting the health and growth of small and medium enterprises designed to retain 180,000 current jobs and create new ones,” said Nabil Nasr, associate provost and GIS director. “Additional goals will be to increase exports, provide solutions to extend the life of products, decrease U.S. reliance on materials sourced in foreign countries and address environmental challenges.”
Roadmap based on circular economy
According to Nasr, this roadmap will use the emerging circular economy concept at its core. Based on systems thinking, the circular economy refers to an industrial economy that is restorative by intention and eliminates waste through thoughtful design. Remanufacturing is a fundamental component of the circular economy, providing an economic and environmental approach to address the most serious challenge facing the future of manufacturing: material availability.
As an initial step in the process, Nasr said, RIT will convene a consortium steering committee comprised of leaders from prominent remanufacturing industry groups—including the Remanufacturing Industries Council, Motor and Equipment Remanufacturers Association, and International Imaging Technology Council. In addition, remanufacturing experts from Caterpillar, GE Healthcare and Davies Office as well as researchers from Argonne and Idaho National Labs will assist with the formation of the Remanufacturing Research Consortium and will advise the development of a technology roadmap.
“This new consortium will include diverse stakeholders to ensure voices are heard from across the industry,” Nasr said. “It also will include non-industrial stakeholders who can provide valuable input.”
In addition to workshops, RIT will conduct surveys, a literature review and in-depth interviews with remanufacturers of all sizes across the country as well as state-of-the-art objective assessments of technology needs and challenges by conducting site visits at two to three companies across a wide range of manufacturing sectors. Data collected will be analyzed to develop a white paper, which will be used as a foundation for the workshop discussions.
The AMTech Program provides funding to industry-driven consortia that develop advanced technologies to address major technological and related barriers that inhibit the growth of advanced manufacturing in the U.S. and the global competitiveness of U.S. companies.
More than 40 organizations will share funding for work done in support of the 16 projects. In addition, more than 250 businesses, trade associations, universities and other organizations will collaborate as unfunded partners.
The new AMTech-funded projects span a wide variety of industries and technologies—from next-generation gas turbines and aerospace manufacturing to hybridized semiconductor and synthetic-biology devices and glass manufacturing.
Thirteen of the projects will launch new consortia. All will initiate technology road-mapping activities or similar efforts to RIT’s intended to identify, prioritize and align research and development in targeted industry sectors.
Established in 2013, the AMTech program sparks partnerships between U.S. industry, academia and government. It encourages the formation of new industry-led consortia—and the strengthening of existing ones—for the purpose of tackling shared technical barriers to the growth of advanced manufacturing. On July 30, 2014, the program announced its second competition for AMTech planning grants (http://www.nist.gov/amo/201407_amtech_comp.cfm). Today’s award recipients were selected from an initial pool of 118 applicants, seeking a total of $56.6 million in federal funding.
As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. To learn more about NIST, go to www.nist.gov.
About the Golisano Institute for Sustainability
GIS was established in 2007 with a $10 million gift from Paychex Inc. founder and philanthropist B. Thomas Golisano. RIT was awarded a $13.1 million grant by the National Institute of Standards and Technology Construction Grant Program, and $15 million in funding from the state of New York that was used toward construction of the facility and equipment.
Partners and affiliates include Xerox Corp., Staples Inc., Caterpillar Inc., Eastman Kodak, and Rochester Midland Corp., with support from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Helen and Ritter Shumway Foundation, and the Chester F. and Dorris Carlson Charitable Trust.