The $30 million grant to the Manufacturing Futures Institute is intended to claim leadership in an era of constantly accelerating technological change in manufacturing. The goal is to develop advanced materials, equipment and processes (like additive manufacturing and manufacturing of biological tissues), in collaboration with local and national manufacturers of all sizes. CMU predicts the institute will catalyze more than $200 million in research in the next 10 years.
Through this grant, “CMU will feed a humming engine of innovation for advanced manufacturing, not just for Pittsburgh but for the nation,” says Gary Fedder, director of the Manufacturing Futures Institute.
The grant expands the institute’s footprint at Mill 19 — a remarkable building constructed inside the frame of the former J&L steel mill, with a massive solar array on the roof. It also gives creates an endowment to ensure its future.
The timeline for these projects envisions completion by 2026.
Over the next decade, robotics, artificial intelligence and advanced materials and manufacturing are expected to grow at double-digit rates, and their total market size will likely exceed $2 trillion by 2030, according to CMU estimates.
“Pittsburgh’s future — and the future of U.S. innovation and global competitiveness — are inextricably linked to scientific and technological advances, and how well organizations, communities and industries can stay ahead of the rapid pace of change,” says CMU President Farnam Jahanian.
It’s hard to predict what the future will hold, of course.
“When you go back to the ‘60s and you look at the foundation’s seed investment in the School of Computer Science … I often like to say Richard King Mellon and his wife Constance didn’t sit down with their counterparts at CMU and ask whether there would be autonomous cars within the next three years.”
Making the long-term investment, without really knowing where it will lead, has worked for R.K. Mellon and CMU in the past.
“So, these are fundamental investments in the core of these three areas of life sciences, manufacturing and robotics,” says Reiman. “And we have every expectation that we’ll see immediate benefits in terms of the types of jobs that will be created, the spin-off companies and corporate partners. But as far as the potential for the technology itself — really, the imagination is the limit here in terms of where this will all end up, resolving and producing for society over the next 50 years.”