By jAMISON COCKLIN
and MarC kovac
The state Controlling Board finalized $2.1 million in funding Monday for Youngstown State University’s role in the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.
The money will now be used by the university to purchase high-tech manufacturing equipment that will be installed at NAMII’s headquarters at 236 W. Boardman St. downtown for use in research and development.
“Two million dollars’ worth of high-end, up-to-date equipment a thousand feet from our campus means our students can go down to work on that equipment, see it operate firsthand and learn how to use it effectively,” said Martin Abraham, dean of the college of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at YSU.
“It also allows our faculty to work with it and provide the access we need to build academic programs and meet the needs of other NAMII members,” he added.
The funds were first approved by the state’s Third Frontier Commission, a component of the Office of Technology’s investments in technology-based economic development.
Last summer, when YSU was writing its proposal to establish an additive manufacturing hub here, officials at the university approached the commission for the additional funds, which were first approved in August.
NAMII brings together more than 65 private and public entities, primarily in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, in a collaborative research effort to further commercialize additive manufacturing.
The technology uses three- dimensional imaging software that is used to draw a blueprint that specialized machines interpret to build a product by printing layers of plastic, metal and resin in a process that has the ability to drastically reduce the time, labor and material used in manufacturing.
YSU joined other prestigious universities such as Carnegie Mellon and Case Western Reserve in a consortium that partners such research institutions with industry titans such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The universities’ proposal was granted by the federal government over the summer, establishing a proof-of-concept manufacturing hub in Youngstown in August that is expected to serve as model for as many as 15 other similar institutes nationwide.
NAMII is funded by about $30 million from governmental agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense and a total of $40 million in matching funds from the consortium’s partners, $1 million of which was pledged by YSU.
Darrell Wallace, a professor of mechanical engineering at YSU and acting deputy director of work force and education outreach at NAMII, said the state dollars are being allocated to the university in support of its role at NAMII.
The West Boardman Street facility has been undergoing renovations to accommodate machinery used in the additive manufacturing process since it officially opened in September. Research and development operations are expected to pick up there in February.
Currently, a number of faculty members in the STEM college are preparing project proposals for NAMII that are due Thursday. The machinery will be especially important once the consortium begins its work.
“The state committed to do that when we submitted our initial proposal last year,” said Michael Hripko, director of STEM research and technology-based economic development at YSU.
“It’s great to hear that they approved the funds and honored their commitment — that’s great for us.”