The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) has renewed funding for the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CESMII) at UCLA. The institute will receive an initial $6 million, with the potential of additional federal funding during four subsequent years, combined with $30 million in industry contributions for a total of $60 million.
“We are proud to lead a robust public-private partnership with 181 member organizations across industry, academia and government in the U.S.,” said Ah-Hyung “Alissa” Park, the Ronald and Valerie Sugar Dean of the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, where CESMII is based. “Together, we can help enhance the manufacturing capabilities in the U.S. and transform our economy to be more sustainable.”
This renewed commitment builds upon an initial federal funding of $70 million, in addition to $72.8 million in cost share from its member partners, for a total of $142.8 million in initial funding. The additional funding will help further advance the widespread adoption of smart manufacturing (SM) technology, which is crucial for the U.S. to remain competitive in clean energy manufacturing and to accelerate the nation’s transition to a net-zero carbon economy.
UCLA Vice Provost Emeritus Jim Davis, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, is co-founder of a U.S. initiative — Smart Manufacturing — and has been instrumental in CESMII’s founding and its ongoing success as its principal investigator. Since its inception in 2016, CESMII has established a national program that includes a network of smart manufacturing regional innovation centers (SMICs) across the nation to support and promote smart manufacturing. UCLA is home to both CESMII’s program and its west coast SMIC, which has satellites at El Camino Community College, Oregon State University and ThinkIQ in Orange County, California. CESMII’s national education and workforce development initiatives have produced more than 50 smart manufacturing courses to train more than 6,000 members of the manufacturing workforce annually. Within the 32 university member institutions, CESMII’s SM content is being built into a range of curricula.
As a SMIC, UCLA is a hub of knowledge and innovation with contributions from many UCLA faculty. UCLA’s Innovation Center is jointly led by professor Panagiotis Christofides, chair of the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department, mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Xiaochun Li and Dale Turner — vice president of the CESMII Innovation Center Network out of UCLA’s Office of Advanced Research Computing. They are joined by assistant professor Carlos Morales-Guio, associate professor Khalid Jawed, and professors Tsu-Chin “TC” Tsao and Jim Davis, as well as more than a dozen graduate students and postdocs.
“Over the past seven years, CESMII has scaled a diverse ecosystem of innovation and expertise,” said AMMTO Director Christopher Saldaña.
“Our vision is bold. Smart Manufacturing is poised to drive the next wave of U.S. manufacturing with the digitalization of the industry for global competitiveness and economic, environmental, and social sustainability,” Davis said. “The renewal funding allows CESMII 2.0 to scale data, modeling, industry interconnectedness and end-to-end adoption of SM.”
CESMII has become a mature public-private partnership that can advance industry digitalization for more resilient supply chains and reductions in energy, materials, carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. SM also enables the transition to new materials, new manufacturing technologies, electrification, low carbon fuel sources and more circular economies.
On September 29, the UCLA SMIC held its annual symposium, where regional university, industry and government attendees discussed the latest developments and applications of smart manufacturing technologies and practices. This year’s focus was on data contextualization, digital twins, data analytics, machine learning and automation.
As DOE’s third Manufacturing USA institute, CESMII has developed foundational smart manufacturing R&D, technologies, practices and educational content to develop the smart manufacturing workforce of the future and to help small, medium and large manufacturers start, adopt and grow the productivity, precision and performance impacts of SM as an industry.
“Over the past seven years, CESMII has scaled a diverse ecosystem of innovation and expertise,” said AMMTO Director Christopher Saldaña. “The institute has been highly successful in developing and deploying SM solutions across a wide swath of industry sectors and supply chains that are critical to a clean, decarbonized economy. The institute’s sustained focus on small and medium-sized manufacturers continues to drive change from the ground up.”
CESMII is one of seven Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institutes supported by two of DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program offices: the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office and Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office. In addition, CESMII is one of the 17 member institutes of Manufacturing USA — a national network of manufacturing innovation institutes created to secure U.S. global leadership in advanced manufacturing through large-scale public-private collaboration on technology, supply chain, and education and workforce development.