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Chicago Hub To Advance AeroDef Manufacturing


Private funds augment DOD contributions to enhance defense and aerospace development in Midwest

According to the Chicago Tribune (Hirst), Chicago secured a bid to Department of Defense (DOD) that beat out MIT and Huntsville, AL, for a national digital manufacturing institute. The article reported that the aerospace sector in Rockford, the Rock Island Arsenal and a production facility for the DOD near Chicago are a few Illinois assets that helped put Chicago on top.

The lab will serve as a flagship for US digital manufacturing, which taps the latest in technology to improve the manufacturing process. While the DOD bidding process required matching funds of at least $70 million, the Chicago consortium secured $250 million.

According to the AP (2/15) two such institutes were awarded, one for light metal manufacturing in Canton, MI, as well as the Chicago digital manufacturing institute. The two institutes fulfill Obama’s 2013 State of the Union promise to create three manufacturing hubs with a federal infusion of $200 million, according to the article. In January President Barack Obama announced that the Next Generation Power Electronics National Manufacturing Innovation Institute had been awarded to Raleigh, NC.

Chicago MFG Hub

According to the Chicago Sun-Times (Slodysko), the Chicago lab will be built on Goose Island, in the North Branch of the Chicago River east of I-94/I-90 between Chicago Ave. and North Ave., sometime in the near future. It will offer a research and development facility to companies as they “seek to harness the potential of big data and supercomputing to solve centuries-old manufacturing dilemmas.” The facility will be operated by UI Labs, a nonprofit spinoff from the University of Illinois. The article noted that many industry partners including Boeing, General Electric, Caterpillar and Northrop Grumman, put money into the Chicago venture. 

According to information on the UI labs website, the lab will connect 40 industry partners, 30 academia, government, and community partners, and 500 other supporting companies and organizations.

Edited by Contributing Editor Bruce Morey

Published Date : 3/3/2014

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