The Texas A&M University College of Engineering will lead a new South Central Regional Robotics Innovation Collaborative, part of the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM) Innovation Hub announced Friday (Jan. 13) by the Department of Defense.
American Robotics, Inc., an independent institute founded by Carnegie Mellon University, will lead the institute. The ARM institute joins the Manufacturing USA network in its collective effort to help revitalize American manufacturing and incentivize companies to invest in new technology development in the United States.
The use of robotics is already present in manufacturing environments, but today’s robots are typically expensive, singularly purposed, challenging to reprogram and require isolation from humans for safety. The ARM institute’s mission is to create and deploy robotic technology by integrating the diverse collection of industry practices and institutional knowledge across many disciplines to create a robust manufacturing innovation ecosystem.
“We are excited to participate in this sustained contribution to ARM’s public-private partnership in support of the expansion of advanced robotics for our nation’s manufacturing growth,” said John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System. “This represents a significant investment in the robotics manufacturing space. Texas A&M already has some of the nation’s most outstanding faculty and researchers in the field of robotics. And soon, our new RELLIS campus will provide them and their research partners with premier test bed facilities and training space.”
Over the past year, Texas A&M Engineering has been chosen to lead two other Manufacturing USA’s nationwide initiatives. Texas A&M and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) are leading the Gulf Coast Regional Manufacturing Center, one of five regional centers located across the country as part of the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute. In addition, the Texas A&M Energy Institute, a partnership between Texas A&M and TEES, has been selected to lead the modeling and simulation efforts of the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment Manufacturing Institute of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
“Having Texas A&M leading this effort in robotics for advanced manufacturing is going to have significant and long lasting impact, opening new avenues for education for our students and positively impacting the economies of our community, state and nation,” said Michael K. Young, President of Texas A&M University.
The robotics-manufacturing consortium, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is comprised of more than 220 partners from state and local governments, industry, universities, community colleges and non-profit organizations. Partner organizations contributed $173 million, combined with $80 million in federal funding. The substantial cost matching reflects the importance the U.S. robotics community places on this institute and its value to U.S. businesses, academia and state and local governments.
“As the lead of the South Central Regional Robotics Innovation Collaborative, we look forward to advancing the ARM institute mission to improve U.S. competitiveness in manufacturing through development of smart collaborative robotic solutions,” said M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor of Texas A&M Engineering. “Texas A&M Engineering has strong existing partnerships with two-year colleges and key state agencies that support workforce development and education opportunities. We will leverage these and other resources, and develop new robotics curricula and training activities for manufacturing.
The ARM institute joins the Manufacturing USA institute network, a program with industry, academia and government participants who co-invest in the development of innovative manufacturing technologies and capabilities. Each Manufacturing USA institute focuses on a technology area critical to future competitiveness – such as additive manufacturing, integrated photonics or smart sensors. The federal government has committed over $1 billion, matched by over $2 billion in non-federal investment.
TEES brings a network of regional expertise in engineering and design, manufacturing, and robotics for collaborative manufacturing to bridge the gap between innovative research and industry need. By offering workforce training, skills development and stackable certificates based on local robotics and manufacturing demands, TEES is uniquely able to create career pathways across all educational levels to increase the number of qualified employees in the industry.
Dr. Prabhakar Pagilla, the James J. Cain Professor II in Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M, served as principal investigator from Texas A&M on the proposal and also represented Texas A&M Engineering at the announcement in Washington, D.C. Dr. Ben Zoghi, professor in engineering technology and industrial distribution, and Stavros Kalafatis, professor of practice in electrical engineering, actively participated in the proposal’s development and industry partnerships. Dr. Dimitris Lagoudas, deputy director of TEES and senior associate dean for research in the college of engineering, continuously provided guidance and support throughout the long proposal effort and championed Texas A&M’s participation in this multi-university partnership.
For more information regarding Manufacturing USA, please visit https://www.manufacturingusa.com/.