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National Science Foundation gives $26 million for advanced manufacturing center at OSU


The National Science Foundation is giving Ohio State University $26 million to create a research center focused on advanced manufacturing.

The $26 million will be distributed over a five-year period to create the center, which will be known as HAMMER, which stands for "Hybrid Autonomous Manufacturing Moving from Evolution to Revolution."

The goal of the center is to, "develop and deploy revolutionary, intelligent autonomous manufacturing systems and educate a future manufacturing workforce. The center will create approaches central to next-generation manufacturing to create jobs, train a diverse workforce and ease supply chain issues by growing a new American industry."

OSU will partner with other universities, including Case Western Reserve University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Northwestern University and the University of Tennessee Knoxville to develop new manufacturing technologies.

OSU President Kristina Johnson said the university will lead the center. Glenn Daehn, a professor of metallurgical engineering, will be the director.

"We really want to develop what is a new industry based on hybrid, autonomous manufacturing. We have a team of nearly 40 of the best, most innovative academics in manufacturing, materials and artificial intelligence across five institutions, and over the past three years developed a vision of what is really a new way of manufacturing and developed plans to change the manufacturing industry," Daehn said. "We welcome people reaching out to us asking to be involved."

Johnson said the center will work on tech that will help secure the nation's supply chain.

"This transformational investment for Ohio State is about much more than research, though that alone is certainly significant. It’s about enhancing U.S. innovation and reclaiming our nation’s position as a leader in domestic manufacturing," Johnson said. "We must invest in both American-made products and our local workforce to safeguard against future supply chain challenges and ensure we remain at the forefront of technological advancements that will transform the way we do business and improve our lives."

The center plans to research ways to make manufacturing easily and quickly customized for different products. Using machines that make autonomous decisions, the goal is to create systems that "learn" and improve themselves over time.

"HAMMER is one of the most significant, high-impact, large-scale research centers to be established at Ohio State. It will advance the current state of manufacturing technologies by uniting design, tools, intelligence and computational materials engineering into a single framework and providing new opportunities to commercialize research," said Grace Wang, executive vice president of research, innovation and knowledge at OSU.

The National Science Foundation may invest another $26 million after the first five years.

Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News.