NCMS’ Grid Cell to be Housed at Lawrence Tech University
This week, the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) will be signing a memorandum of understanding with Lawrence Technological University so that the school can house NCMS’ Michigan Grid Cell.
Lawrence Tech was chosen by NCMS because the school plans to have graduate certification program courses set up by early 2014. These courses include modeling, simulation, and visualization, which will work hand-in-hand with what the Grid Cell offers to businesses, like digital modeling and simulation.
The Grid Cell is currently located at the GE Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center, but there is limited access.
Rick Jarman, President and CEO of NCMS said, “We could see the potential for both professional development and educational attainment, by having access to larger research facilities and the expertise and infrastructure that a university has.”
At the university, the Grid Cell will be placed in an office building on its Southfield campus.
The Grid Cell was part of a $4.8 million U.S. Department of Energy grant given to NCMS in order to help out the Lightweight Automotive Materials Program. The grant was also used to help small businesses with digital manufacturing and to identify industry needs for advanced materials for some of the large manufacturers in the United States. The grant expired in September.
After their studies, NCMS created a “grid” of resource centers, all with different areas of focus, to help smaller businesses enter into advanced materials manufacturing. For example, one center in Michigan focuses on prototyping and design with composite materials, while another in Virginia deals with crash analysis and safety systems.
There is also the possibility of new centers of the grid to have a focus on precision manufacturing, life sciences, medical devices, or even the aerospace industry. However, Jarman says that those are still in development.
"The purpose is to help turn that vertical climb into more of a ramp, to help small and midsized manufacturers," said Jon Riley, Vice President of Digital Manufacturing, NCMS. "And maybe by the time they've used the digital equipment and it lowered their cost or brought a successful product to market, then they're sold on buying the software when they know it makes sense for them.
The executive director of economic development and community affairs at Lawrence Tech, Mark Brucki, says that they will host the Grid Cell rent-free and will use it to aid manufacturers should they need it. It will also be used to help expand the university’s graduate certificate program.
"Considering the (limited) number of universities that offered such programs, and the potential market or need for a program if we added graduate degrees, we wondered, 'What could we do here to help?'" Brucki said.