New advanced manufacturing center aims to strengthen workforce and supply chains

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution is coming to downtown Denver.

Metropolitan State University of Denver is leading the development of a new advanced manufacturing center on the Auraria campus that aims to strengthen the state’s workforce and supply chains with so-called tech technologies. industry 4.0 such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality and the Internet of Things.

MSU Denver is partnering with other higher education institutions on the Auraria Campus to create the Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence. The center will include labs, offices and demonstration facilities that will train and be accessible to local manufacturers, said Mark Yoss, director of MSU Denver’s Advanced Manufacturing Sciences Institute.

The multi-million dollar, multi-year project, which includes the University of Colorado Denver and Community College Denver, will begin this fall with a $135,000 Collaborative Infrastructure Grant from the Office of Economic Development and International Trade of the state.

While Auraria’s advanced manufacturing students will benefit from the center, its facilities will also be open to companies looking to train workers in technology designed to dramatically improve manufacturing efficiency, productivity and distribution.

Jason Butler, lab coordinator for MSU Denver’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing Sciences, uses the Romer arm, a robotic device used for measurement. Photo by Sara Hertwig

“We want to have these new technologies in the labs of all three institutions so that people working in manufacturing in Colorado can come here, learn how to use them, and take the knowledge back to their own workplaces, where they can have more success,” Yoss said.

“And along the way, these companies will get to see how talented and work-ready our students are, and hopefully they’ll hire some of them,” he added.

MSU Denver opened its Advanced Manufacturing Sciences Institute in 2017. Located in the university’s Aerospace and Engineering Science building, the bachelor’s degree program already includes many state-of-the-art facilities created with the help of partners manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin and Hartwig Inc. Existing facilities include an additive 3D printing laboratory and programmable machine tools equipped with robotic accessories.

Additive manufacturing
The Stratasys 3D printer in Lockheed Martin’s additive manufacturing lab at MSU Denver. Photo by Sara Hertwig

The Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence will leverage and upgrade existing tools with even newer technologies – for example, software that will create “digital twins” or digital representations of physical tools. These virtual models use artificial intelligence and data to simulate reality.

“Someone who is new to a machine and needs to learn how to use it, for example, could just put on augmented reality glasses that provide work instructions,” Yoss said. “It’s a much more efficient and cost-effective way to train people.

This software will be implemented as part of the first phase of the Industry 4.0 initiative. Four subsequent phases will focus on additive manufacturing, cloud computing, autonomous robots, data technologies and cybersecurity.

Yoss estimates that the total project will cost $2.2 million over a period of five to ten years.

“The disruptions to our supply chains over the past two years illustrate the need for the kinds of technology and training this new center will provide,” Yoss said. “The United States must adopt and deploy these technologies across all sectors as quickly as possible.”

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and the technologies that encompass connectivity, data, and automation mark a shift from the Third Industrial Revolution, or digital revolution, in which mechanical and analog technologies were replaced by those using electronics. digital computing in the second half of the 20e century.


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