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The new Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence from MSU Denver

The advanced-manufacturing center aims to strengthen workforce and supply chains

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Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) is leading the development of a new advanced-manufacturing center, the Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence, on the university’s Auraria Campus – aimed at strengthening the state’s workforce and supply chains through Industry 4.0 technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, the Internet of Things, and 3D printing.

MSU Denver is partnering with the other higher-education institutions on the Auraria Campus to create the Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence. The center will comprise laboratories, office space, and demonstration facilities that will train, and be accessible to, local manufacturers.

The multi-year, multi-million-dollar project, which includes the University of Colorado Denver and Community College of Denver, is enabled by a $135,000 Collaborative Infrastructure Grant from the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and is expected to begin this fall.

The Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence from MSU Denver. The new advanced-manufacturing center aims to strengthen workforce and supply chains.
The Stratasys 3D printer in the Lockheed Martin Additive Manufacturing Lab at MSU Denver. Photo by Sara Hertwig. Source: MSU Denver

Auraria advanced-manufacturing students, as well as companies looking to train workers in technology meant to substantially improve manufacturing efficiencies, productivity, and distribution, will benefit from the available facilities at the center.

“We want to have these new technologies in labs across the three institutions so that people working in Colorado’s manufacturing industry can come here, learn how to use them, and take the knowledge back to their own workplaces, where they can be more successful,” said Mark Yoss, director of MSU Denver’s Advanced Manufacturing Sciences Institute. “And along the way, those companies will have a chance to see how talented and work-ready our students are, and hopefully they’ll hire some of them.”

MSU Denver opened its Advanced Manufacturing Sciences Institute in 2017. Located in the University’s Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building, the bachelor’s program already includes many cutting-edge facilities created with the help of industry partners such as Lockheed Martin and Hartwig Inc. Existing facilities include a 3D printing laboratory (including a Stratasys F900 printer) and programmable machine tools equipped with robotic accessories.

The Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence will leverage and upgrade the existing tools with even newer technologies. For example – software that will create ‘digital twins’, or digital representations, of physical tools (virtual models that use artificial intelligence and data to simulate the real thing).

The Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence from MSU Denver. The new advanced-manufacturing center aims to strengthen workforce and supply chains.
Jason Butler, lab coordinator for MSU Denver’s Advanced Manufacturing Sciences Institute, uses the Romer arm, a robotic device used for measuring. Photo by Sara Hertwig. Source: MSU Denver

“Someone who is new to a machine and needs to learn how to use it, for example, might just put on augmented-reality glasses that provide work instructions,” said Yoss. “It’s a much more efficient and cost-effective way to train people.”

Such software will be implemented as part of the first phase of the Industry 4.0 initiative. Four subsequent phases will focus on 3D printing, cloud computing, autonomous robots, data technologies, and cybersecurity.

“The disruptions to our supply chains over the last couple of years illustrate the need for the kinds of technology and training this new center will provide,” said Yoss. “The U.S. needs to adopt and deploy these technologies across industries as quickly as possible.”

Yoss estimates that the project cost will total $2.2 million over a five-to-10-year period.

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