This summer, President Barack Obama announced a $70 million federal award to the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC), an industry-led national nonprofit, to create a nationwide Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The institute includes three of the five California State University campuses (CSU5) in the Los Angeles area. California State University, Northridge, along with Cal State Long Beach and Cal Poly Pomona, will fuel industry growth and innovation nationwide with more than $140 million in public-private investment geared toward developing advanced manufacturing technology and a supporting workforce and education pipeline. The announcement was made at the Select USA Summit in Washington, D.C.
S. K. Ramesh, dean of CSUN’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, who represents the university at the institute, spoke about CSUN’s longstanding commitment to promote advanced manufacturing.
“We offer one of the three ABET-accredited bachelor’s degree programs in manufacturing systems engineering in the state of California, and we are a leading partner in the national Maker Faire Movement, Higher Education University Alliance,” he said. “Our faculty and students work on a variety of areas of interest to the new institute, including software development, sensors, advanced modeling and control systems.”
The Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute will be an industry-led nonprofit organization headquartered in LA, with networked regional centers across California, Washington, New York, North Carolina and Texas. The national network will work across business, workforce and technical focus areas, leveraging each region’s unique industrial environments. It will be the ninth institute awarded under the National Network of Manufacturing Institutes initiative. The SMLC brings together a strong collaboration of nearly 200 partners from academia, industry and nonprofits across more than 30 states. The institute will accelerate the development and adoption of advanced sensors, data analytics and controls in manufacturing, while reducing the cost of these technologies by half and radically improving the efficiency of U.S. advanced manufacturing.
The institute will enable small, medium and large manufacturers, new and unprecedented access to smart tools, innovation and the ability to grow their business.
CSUN’s College of Engineering and Computer Science has a culture of supporting innovation and celebrates the success of its students through events such as the annual Senior Design Project Showcase. Several projects have won acclaim at regional and national competitions. In the past two years, CSUN’s “Hybrid Layered Manufacturing 3D Printer” and “Cloudponics System” have won the grand prize at the Product and Manufacturing System Design Challenge, hosted by the Small Manufacturer’s Institute.
Several industry partners from the college’s industry advisory board are expected to actively participate in the new institute.
“One of the important DOE goals for the institute is workforce development and education,” Ramesh said. “DOE expects the institute to train at least 500 students per year in smart manufacturing technologies and solutions by year three. CSUN is uniquely positioned to help the institute meet this goal, given our high-quality programs.”