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IU research, IT to support Digital Lab for Manufacturing

February 26, 2014

Indiana University has been named a partner in creating the Chicago-based $320 million Digital Lab for Manufacturing recently announced by President Barack Obama.

IU President Michael A. McRobbie says the nation’s new flagship research institute for digital manufacturing and design innovation will benefit from IU’s strengths in cyberinfrastructure and data architecture development, high-performance and cloud computing, cybersecurity, and the university’s long history of successful industrial partnerships.

“Indiana University is proud to be a part of the creation of the new Digital Lab for Manufacturing being designed specifically to transform and reinvigorate U.S. manufacturing, create new jobs and spur future innovation,” McRobbie says. “Our expertise in a wide range of areas will enable IU to enhance the Digital Lab as it changes America’s economic landscape through the creation of a new digital manufacturing ecosystem.”

IU’s partnership with Digital Lab will leverage faculty and laboratories from the School of Informatics and Computing at the IU Bloomington and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campuses, the School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI, personnel and assets within IU’s University Information Technology Services, and access to IU’s high-performance computing resources, including the Big Red II supercomputer.

The new research institute, funded with a $70 million grant from the Department of Defense and an additional $250 million in commitments from industry, academia, government, and community partners, is part of Obama’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation that consists of regional hubs to accelerate development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies for making new, globally competitive products.

The new manufacturing innovation institute brings together 40 industry partners; more than 30 academic, government, and community partners; and more than 500 other supporting companies and organizations. IU has already had strong partnerships with a number of Digital Lab’s leading industry members, including Microsoft, Rolls-Royce N.A., Boeing, Dow, General Electric, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin.

“The acceleration of cutting-edge innovation and manufacturing ties directly to the core missions of Indiana University, and our long history of successful partnerships with a number of Digital Lab’s current industry, academic and governmental stakeholders ensures a swift and sustainable environment for collaboration,” says IU Vice President for Research Jorge José. “Our participation in this transformative endeavor recognizes that the talent needed to leverage the best research and technology in the country is here at Indiana University.”

The Digital Lab will apply mobile, cloud and high-performance computing technologies to manufacturing challenges recognized by the Department of Defense and industry, and it is in these areas that IU can be expected to provide support. IU’s research supercomputer Big Red II will be made available to Digital Lab, as will cloud computing research expertise and technologies, cyberinfrastructure and cybersecurity expertise, and software development for large-scale, decentralized systems like Digital Lab.

Digital Lab is expected to use an open-source online software platform called the Digital Manufacturing Commons that creates online networks of people, machines, and factories, in turn enabling the real-time collaboration and analysis of big data during design and manufacturing processes. José says IU currently has a number of specific projects underway that can contribute directly to the development of new digital manufacturing modules and technologies, including IU’s Advanced Visualization Lab, Engineering Design Research Laboratory, Multibody Dynamics Lab, and Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing Lab.

In addition to José, Geoffrey Charles Fox, associate dean of research at the School of Informatics and Computing at IU Bloomington, and Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations Doug Wasitis were integral to developing IU’s successful proposal. Fox, who also is a Distinguished Professor of computer science and informatics, is a recognized leader in the field of scientific and cloud computing, and Wasitis worked with colleagues from additional Digital Lab academic partners Purdue University and University of Notre Dame to coordinate efforts with Indiana’s U.S. congressional delegation.