Auburn University Awarded $4 Million to Help Small, Mid-Size Manufacturers
The U.S. Department of Defense awarded $4.26 million to the Interdisciplinary Center for Advanced Manufacturing Systems (ICAMS) at Auburn University to explore the digitalization of manufacturing. The grant will also help ICAMS become a resource for small and mid-size manufacturers.
“The most significant way ICAMS can make a difference is in helping small and medium manufacturers understand the technologies they should be utilizing and helping them understand the need for adopting Industry 4.0/smart manufacturing concepts, therefore really digitalizing the full supply chain,” said Gregory Harris, ICAMS director and associate professor of industrial and systems engineering.
There is a growing digital divide between large manufacturers and the small- to medium-sized manufacturers that make up 85% of the industrial base in the United States, Harris said. ICAMS researchers hope to close this gap in part by promoting advanced manufacturing principles to create a skilled workforce pipeline that starts in high school and continues through community college and beyond.
“Part of what we’re doing with ICAMS is helping develop the skill base and the skill sets needed so that the community college system and high schools can train students in the new technologies to be potential employees,” Harris explained. “We’re working with industry to train their current employees in these new capabilities and create a more effective system. Finally, we’re training engineers to be able to go out and help design, build and run these systems, thus ushering in the future of manufacturing.”