Pennsylvania schools partner with manufacturers to create new production methods

July 26, 2012

There has been a lot of talk among U.S. manufacturers about adopting a new business strategy that favors lean manufacturing principles and increased efficiency to help companies cope with a potential drop in demand. Now, two major academic institutions in Pennsylvania are hoping to use collaboration to help expedite the transition to these efficient methods.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Governor Tom Corbett administration has created the framework for a project that would link technical researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Lehigh University with manufacturers to develop cutting-edge production methods and new products for the industry.

States have been looking to bolster their manufacturing sectors, and Pennsylvania chose to invest in a different type of research & development project, relying on the combination of the brightest minds of tomorrow with the industry leaders of today.

The project, called Research for Advanced Manufacturing in Pennsylvania (RAMP), has received more than $1 million from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. According to the Inquirer, this money will not be going directly to companies, however, as the money would go to funding graduate students who will work with the for-profit businesses.

Carnegie Mellon and Lehigh want to help companies in the state grow and pursue new products that could be manufactured in Pennsylvania. It would also benefit the students, as these innovative minds would be linked with future places of employment and provide them with beneficial networking opportunities.

According to the newspaper, the projects will be based upon and centered on technology and innovation, as the students from both schools will come from supply chain and engineering backgrounds.

Matthew A. Sanfilippo, the executive director for Carnegie Mellon's Institute for Complex Engineered Systems, noted that the project could be largely focused on "additive manufacturing," also known as 3-D printing. Advances in this sector would be beneficial to both the individual companies and the U.S. manufacturing sector as a whole.

"We want the United States to be leaders in that kind of manufacturing," he told the Inquirer.

This type of innovation and strengthening of the state's sector could be influential in the new projects for Pennsylvania, according to a separate article in the Inquirer.

Dealing with the Marcellus Shale formation is going to require skilled labor and efficient business strategy.