There is no more heated rivalry in the country than that between Ohio State and Michigan and no matter what the sport is, to say that the Buckeyes and Wolverines, and their fans, do not like each other would be an understatement. While the hatred for the other school extends far beyond the playing surface for many fans, for the universities the rivalry is put aside when it comes to academics and research.
All members of the Big Ten conference, plus the University of Chicago, are members of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) – a consortium designed to improve the academic and research missions of it’s member schools through sharing of expertise and resources and fostering collaborations.
As members of the CIC, Ohio State and Michigan have worked together on numerous projects over the years, along with other members of the Big Ten. Now the two universities are teaming up again to found a new public-private consortium that will generate thousands of jobs and revolutionize manufacturing.
Ohio State and the University of Michigan, along with EWI (a Columbus-based nonprofit with expertise in manufacturing technology), are co-founders of the new American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII); I can’t wait to see that on business cards. ALMMII is the newest node in the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The NNMI was proposed by President Obama as a series of regional centers tasked with accelerating the development and adoption of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies and to use these technologies for making new products which can compete globally.
ALMMII didn’t just happen because OSU and Michigan decided to create it. The institute had to compete with other proposals for federal funding and was selected though a competitive process led by the Department of Defense to receive $70 million in federal funding over 5 years. The federal funding will be matched by $78 million from the members of the consortium though a mix of public and private sources. In addition, ALMMII is made up of more than 7 universities, 17 non-industry members, and 30 companies including Boeing, Honda, and General Electric.
ALMMII is charged with developing state of the art lightweight metals for use in the automotive, aerospace, and defense industries and getting these materials onto assembly lines. These new materials will lead to lighter vehicles that will use less fuel, saving money and reducing carbon emissions. Reducing fuel usage in vehicles is a major issue these days with the increasing cost of fuel and growing concerns about climate change.
ALMMII will be headquartered in Canton, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, but will receive key support in Columbus. The institute is expected to create 10,000 job throughout the Midwest, mostly in the areas of metal stamping, metalworking, machining, and casting. Considering the rich history of manufacturing in Ohio and Michigan and the important of the automotive, aerospace, and defense industries in the two states, it is appropriate that OSU and Michigan founded this institute to move these industries into the future.
While it is too bad that the new institute will be headquartered in Michigan and not Ohio, the jobs generated by ALMMII will be throughout the entire Midwest and will benefit companies in Ohio. Additionally ALMMII will generate numerous opportunities for OSU professors and students. Ohio State professors will play a key role in the research conducted at ALMMII and the research funding from the institute should help attract new researchers to the university.
OSU students will be involved in this cutting edge research, giving them the opportunity to develop valuable skills that will help them on the job market after graduation. With the institute involving numerous private companies, students will likely spend a good deal of time working with corporate scientists and engineers, allowing them to develop valuable connections which will help them even more when it comes to finding a job upon graduation. The cutting edge materials and techniques developed at ALMMII will require that the workforce of the future be increasingly skilled in science, technology, and engineering. To help ensure that this is the case, the institute will help develop curricula for use in school programs from grade school up to graduate school.
While Ohio State and Michigan are fierce rivals on the playing field, they cooperate in the classrooms and research labs. While this cooperation may seem strange to many fans, and violate their hatred of the other school, it leads to great things that benefits students, faculty, and the world at large.