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KSTC-led Additive Manufacturing Initiative Named NSF Engines Semifinalist

Partners include Research-1 universities and groups driving economic development throughout the Midwest

A project led by the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC) was recently selected as one of 34 semifinalists in the inaugural National Science Foundation Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) competition.

The proposal, Additive Manufacturing Forward Engine (AMFE), was selected from 188 concept outlines received by the NSF to move forward in the competition. Final awardees could receive up to $160 million over 10 years, with each awardee receiving $15 million for the first two years.

KSTC serves as the lead organization for AMFE with core partners including University of Louisville, West Virginia University, The Ohio State University, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, America Makes, and the Applied Science and Technology Resource Organization of America.

“We’re proud to be selected as a semifinalist with our regional and national partners. It’s truly a collaborative effort,“ said KSTC President and project lead Terry Samuel. “With AMFE contributing sustainable technologies, and subsequently higher-skilled and higher-wage employment, the NSF Engines program could be transformative for our region.”

AMFE is focused on accelerating additive manufacturing in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio to advance U.S. domestic manufacturing and revitalize economic growth across the three states. AMFE combines existing industry demand from for-profit enterprises, a regional consortium of R1 universities, a network of manufacturers ready to adopt additive manufacturing processes, and a training-ready workforce to implement developed technology.

“Additive technologies are revolutionizing the way we manufacture everything from aircraft to medicine,” said Thomas Berfield, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and a UofL lead on the proposal. “By leveraging the research expertise, strength and capabilities of UofL and our partners, we can make a big difference for manufacturers here in Kentucky and across the Midwest.”

Authorized by the "CHIPS and Science Act," the NSF Engines program intends to expand our nation’s innovation capacity by investing in key areas of technology and economic growth in distinct regions.

"Each of these NSF Engines semifinalists represents an emerging hub of innovation and lends their talents and resources to form the fabric of NSF's vision to create opportunities everywhere and enable innovation anywhere," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan in a release announcing the semifinalists. "These teams will spring ideas, talent, pathways and resources to create vibrant innovation ecosystems all across our nation."

The AMFE project proposes that advancements in additive manufacturing technologies can accelerate U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and strengthen national security. Additive manufacturing can reduce part lead times, material costs, energy usage and waste, and is a key technology for aerospace and semiconductor manufacturing.

“Additive manufacturing holds immense potential for industrial and economic growth, particularly in our region with automotive, aerospace and logistics supply chains,” Samuel said. “If selected, NSF Engines will make that potential a reality with demand for additive manufacturing components, advancement in processes, technology, materials, workforce development and expanded access to capital.”

NSF anticipates naming finalists in the next several weeks and the list of awardees this fall after assessing each team’s ability to mobilize within the first two years, competitive advantages, budgets, workforce development efforts, risks and resources.


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