• Greg Jones

The Value of University Partnerships

Updated: Jan 4

How can manufacturing technology companies find potential partners and other resources to advance their capabilities to develop innovative new products and technologies cost-effectively? You don’t need to go it alone and hire all the expertise you need in-house. Universities and regional colleges, including their Tech Transfer Centers, in your state can help.

Partnering with or leveraging the resources and programs of universities in your home state is a potentially valuable and cost-effective way to advance your company’s MT solutions. Universities can be regional or national in reach, public or private, and four-year or two-year. Their engineering and technology departments have research programs, laboratories, and sometimes entire institutes working on manufacturing technology projects and may offer partnership opportunities and other valuable free or low-cost resources. Large universities, especially, often function as national research hubs with dozens of large research projects spanning a wide range of manufacturing technologies going on at any given time.

To highlight just two examples of university industry partnerships at work, Purdue University currently has more than 100 faculty and 500-plus graduate students doing research related to manufacturing technology. It also hosts the Indiana Manufacturing Competitiveness Center (IN-MaC), delivered in partnership with two other universities. IN-MaC’s goal is to advance and support the growth of MT in the state and help regional small- to mid-sized manufacturers make the transition to Industry 4.0.

“Indiana has a large number of Tier 1 and 2 companies that form the supply base of large OEMs in various industry sectors. IN-MaC provides resources that help them with many of their challenges including investment in research, sharing research laboratory expertise, and technology transfer into the private sector,” said Nathan Hartman, co-Executive Director, IN-MaC and Dauch Family Professor of Advanced Manufacturing at Purdue.

All Indiana-based manufacturers are eligible for IN-MaC services, which also include education, workforce development, and training programs. Purdue also supports regional manufacturing companies through its WHIN program, a 10-county consortium that works with regional manufacturers to develop and implement technologies and provide workforce education and development.

On the West Coast, the University of California, Berkeley is launching a major statewide initiative on workforce training for smart manufacturing. “Advanced manufacturing requires a workforce with the ability to work with data, models, analytics, and systems and to integrate sensors, cameras, and robotics into manufacturing enterprise systems,” said Tarek I. Zohdi, Chancellor's Professor and Will C. Hall Family Endowed Chair, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, UC Berkeley. “Our comprehensive training program spans community college through postdoctoral training, includes training for the incumbent workforce, and builds a pipeline that extends into K-12. The program will address multiple modes of delivery, both onsite through workshops, boot camps and industry sites; as well as online through self-directed learning, simulation, and virtual reality learning. UC Berkeley will create and distribute stand-alone training modules that combine extensive online instruction and a network of onsite residential boot-camps. The team will work with educational institutions and industry partners throughout California.”

AMT has relationships with dozens of universities throughout the country and is an excellent resource to get you pointed in the right direction if you are interested in connecting with universities or colleges in your state. Reach out to me at gjones@amtonline.org to learn more.