Grawemeyer Hall
Grawemeyer Hall

The University of Louisville and partners have been awarded $1 million from the National Science Foundation to accelerate manufacturing innovation throughout Kentucky and surrounding regions.

Funding for the project, dubbed Advancing Manufacturing and Building Construction Technologies (NSF AMT), comes via an NSF Engines Development award through the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program, setting them up to pursue an NSF Engine award of up to $160 million – the largest award ever offered by the NSF. AMT is led by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC), and core partners include UofL, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and trade organizations, such as ASTRO America.

“When Kentucky’s businesses are able to leverage groundbreaking innovations from our leading institutions, like the University of Louisville, our entire economy stands to gain,” said U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, who helped secure the funding for the AMT coalition.

Together, the partners will develop a regional plan to improve use of and innovation in additive manufacturing technology, also known as 3-D printing, which can help manufacturers reduce part lead times, material costs, energy usage and waste. Louisville alone is home to more than 2,400 manufacturing firms in areas ranging from food and beverage to automotive, with a total workforce of more than 82,500. 

“By focusing on advancing sustainable additive manufacturing technologies, this project has the potential to support expansion and attract companies and additional high-wage, high-skilled jobs for our commonwealth,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. “These kinds of initiatives add to the remarkable strides being made by Kentucky’s entrepreneurs, companies and colleges and universities toward building our state’s future economy. Congratulations to the AMT team for securing this award and both demonstrating and improving Kentucky’s competitiveness and capacity for research and innovation.”

As part of NSF AMT, UofL will leverage its top-notch degree and technology badging programs to build a qualified workforce and its research and innovation strength to further technological innovation. This includes connection to the UofL-based Kentucky Manufacturing Extension Partnership (KY-MEP) statewide resource center, along with labs, including the multi-disciplinary Additive Manufacturing Institute of Science & Technology. Over the next year, UofL also will host a series of events, workshops and demonstrations to engage businesses and showcase the potential of additive manufacturing.

“The innovative research we produce at UofL becomes most meaningful when applied to advancements that improve our community,” said UofL President Kim Schatzel. “We’re proud to continue working with our partners to translate our additive manufacturing knowledge into solutions that revolutionize the way we manufacture everything from medication to computer chips.”

UofL and partners also were recently awarded a $1 million NSF Engines Development grant, dubbed Generate Advanced Manufacturing Excellence for Change (GAME Change), aimed at securing economic competitiveness throughout the Southeastern Commerce Corridor (SCC) of Kentucky and Tennessee, with a focus on next-generation and advanced manufacturing, supply chain and logistics, more durable and sustainable materials and more. NSF Engines Development awards are meant to help applicants prepare for an NSF Engines proposal. 

“UofL is committed to empowering small and medium enterprises in our region with the latest advancements in additive manufacturing,” said Will Metcalf, UofL associate vice president for research and innovation and partner on NSF AMT. “Through our NSF Engines Development award and other efforts, we will engage in training and outreach to help these businesses thrive in an increasingly competitive market.”

Launched by NSF’s new Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships and authorized by the “CHIPS and Science Act of 2022,” the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation’s science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. NSF Engines aspire to catalyze robust partnerships to positively impact regional economies, accelerate technology development, address societal challenges, advance national competitiveness and create local, high-wage jobs.

“We are eager to continue the work and build upon the partnerships we developed as part of our initial NSF Engines proposal through this  award,” said KSTC President Terry Samuel. “It is a testament to the importance and potential of both our region and additive manufacturing technologies.”