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International meeting focuses on successful public-private partnerships in advanced manufacturing


NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION, Oct. 5, 2011 – The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing; the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.; and the British Consulate-General in Chicago, Ill; are sponsoring a four-day international meeting, "The Future of Advanced Manufacturing: The Role of UK and US Private Partnerships," which began in Chicago on Oct. 3, moved to the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington, Va., for today and tomorrow. 

The theme of the meeting reflects the federal government’s initiative to increase support for manufacturing and robotics technology as a way of creating jobs and growing the economy. 

In announcing the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership recently, President Barack Obama said that the partnership between universities, firms, and the federal government would open engineering labs to small firms, support manufacturing process research, and develop "precompetitive" technologies such as “nanomanufacturing,” flexible electronics, information technology-enabled manufacturing, and advanced materials."

The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing illustrates the kind of public-private partnership cited by the president. The center was launched in May 2010 by two of Virginia’s top higher education institutions -- Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia -- to transform applied research into business advantages by collaborating and delivering new "production-ready" solutions to manufacturing processes and factories. Since that time, seven companies -- Canon-Virginia, Chromalloy, Rolls-Royce, Sandvik-Coromant, Siemens PLM, Newport News Shipbuilding, and Aerojet -- have become members of the center and are actively pursuing joint research projects in the field of advanced manufacturing, and Virginia State University has joined as an organizing university member.   

The Future of Advanced Manufacturing will explore how public-private partnerships in the United Kingdom and the United States are overcoming barriers to intellectual property sharing, increasing productivity of manufacturing processes, and making companies more competitive.

The three partner universities of the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing are supporting the meeting in Chicago and Arlington. The Virginia Tech effort is being led by two professors in the Virginia Tech College of Engineering: Jaime Camelio, industrial and systems engineering, and Gary Pickrell, material science and engineering, who serve respectively as director of manufacturing systems and director of surface engineering at the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, and Don Leo, associate vice president for research in the National Capital Region.

David Lohr, president and executive director, Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, will be among the speakers at the meeting. Others include the following from the United Kingdom: Pete Chivers, executive director, National Composites Centre; Stephen Court, operations director, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre; Clive Hickman, chief executive, The Manufacturing Technology Centre Ltd; Bill Ion, operations director, Advanced Forming Research Centre; and Keith Ridgway, program director, Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. 

In addition to focusing on innovative ways to foster public-private collaborations that improve manufacturing, the meeting will include overviews and examples of successful partnership models and projects and discussions on the role of universities and companies in creating these successful ventures.

Sen. Mark Warner is scheduled to speak at a reception on Oct. 5 being held in conjunction with The Future of Advanced Manufacturing meeting. Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger will also address the group during the reception at the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington.

Virginia Tech has fostered a growing partnership with the greater metropolitan Washington, D.C., community since 1969. Today, the university’s presence in the National Capital Region includes graduate programs and research centers in Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Leesburg, Manassas, and Middleburg. In addition to supporting the university’s teaching and research mission, Virginia Tech’s National Capital Region has established collaborations with local and federal agencies, businesses, and other institutions of higher education. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.