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Purdue University breaks ground on $50 million project

News International-French

26 Jun 2015

More than 200 people attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the Indiana Manufacturing Institute, which is part of a $50 million project where Purdue University researchers will advance research of composite materials manufacturing to develop more energy-efficient technologies.

The 62,000-square-foot institute, which is slated to open in mid-2016, is part of a $259 million U.S. Department of Energy initiative to support President Obama's National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. The DOE project, called the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, is a five-year public-private collaboration that includes a federal commitment of $70 million and $189 million pledged by industry, state economic development agencies and universities. The University of Tennessee in Knoxville is the lead institution in the collaboration that includes public and private agencies in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Colorado.

Composite materials are used in everything from bike helmets to buildings and airplanes and it is used in many economic sectors, including aerospace, aviation, automotive, energy and sporting equipment.

"Indiana led the nation in advanced manufacturing job growth last year, an industry that represents 25 percent of our state’s economy," said Victor Smith, Indiana Secretary of Commerce. "Led by Purdue, our state’s participation in this initiative will continue to strengthen that foundation, supporting our highly-skilled workforce and creating opportunity for future corporate research partners while developing technologies to advance composite materials and conserve energy at the global level."

R. Byron Pipes, the John Leighton Bray Distinguished Professor of Engineering, will lead Purdue's Design, Modeling and Simulation Enabling Technology Center to be housed in the institute.

"The research conducted by faculty, staff and students in the institute will be structured to serve advanced composite materials R&D, and collaborating with the many industries using these technologies is a seamless transition," Pipes said. "That is because advanced composite materials have broad, proven applications because of their lightweight properties and proven strength and durability while also remaining elastic. The Boeing 787 commercial airplane is a wonderful example of what this technology can achieve."

The institute will engage Purdue faculty, including about 10 engineers and a number of graduate students, to work in the research areas that will initially occupy up to 30,000 square feet in the Purdue Research Park-based facility.

"The research and educational opportunities through this advanced composite materials initiative will serve a great benefit for both our faculty and students," said Leah Jamieson, John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering. "Not only will it generate opportunities for sponsored research in this core development area, but our students will have even greater educational, internship and career prospects.

Gary Bertoline, dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, said faculty and students in the Department of Aviation Technology also will benefit from the institute's creation.

"Airplanes and other forms of aviation technologies are primary benefactors of the continuing developments of advanced composite materials," Bertoline said. "One of our strategic goals for the Purdue Polytechnic Institute is to provide our students with skills, knowledge and experiences for a 21st century education, and this initiative will help us do that."

About 30,000 square feet in the Purdue Research Park-based Indiana Manufacturing Institute will be used for Purdue research. The other 32,000 square feet is reserved for public or private enterprises interested in composite materials research collaboration with the university.

In partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, an expenditure of almost $35 million in research equipment and materials in the institute is expected over the next five years, funded through a cooperative agreement with the DOE.

Purdue Research Foundation will invest $11 million in the construction of the building, which will be located at the corner of Challenger Avenue and Yeager Road on property that is partly owned by the City of West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission and is being donated to the Purdue Research Foundation by the commission. The foundation already owns the remainder of the land for the development.

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