CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University will be one of the founding academic partners in the newest Manufacturing USA Institute, a $3 billion federal and private company initiative designed to enhance U.S. competitiveness in advanced manufacturing.

This is the latest of 14 institutes that have been announced, and is known as the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Innovation Hub. It will be supported by $253 million from federal and matching funding. States, local governments, industry, universities, community colleges and non-profit organizations will participate, and the U.S. Department of Defense is directing the federal effort.

American Robotics, Inc., in Pittsburgh will lead the new robotics hub in close collaboration with founding industrial and academic partners across the nation. A primary goal is to better organize the current fragmented capabilities in robotics technology in the U.S. while helping to make the nation better able to globally compete.

Among academic institutions, OSU already has one of the nation's leading educational and research programs in robotics.

"We'll be leveraging our world-class robotics faculty in collaboration with our colleagues in mechanical, industrial, manufacturing engineering, and electrical engineering and computer science," said Bill Smart, an associate professor in the OSU College of Engineering and one of the university's leaders in robotics education and research.

"OSU is perfectly positioned for this institute, since it has strengths in all of the areas, and a long history of actually reaching out to and working with industry. This is squarely in OSU's wheelhouse, given our long history and deep experience of working with Oregon companies on projects that bring real, tangible benefits to the local and national economies."

The new institute will conduct applied research and development; deliver education and workforce training; and create a nationwide network of "regional innovation" collaborations. OSU will help lead one of those collaboratives in the Pacific Northwest.

In the long term, robotics innovation is expected to help American workers be more productive and stimulate new technological innovations. Advances are expected in robotics control; dexterous manipulation; navigation and mobility; perception and sensing; and other fields. Small, medium and large industrial partners are being sought.

Click photos to see a full-size version. Right click and save image to download.