Thanks to an expanded partnership with America Makes, officials with the University of Texas at El Paso say that the college will be a “pivotal leader in the collection of critical performance data for the 3D-printing industry while offering immense benefits to students.”
“We are excited to announce this expanded collaboration with America Makes,” UTEP President Diana Natalicio said. “This is a significant step in the effort to generate data that can be used to move the additive manufacturing industry forward. It is also a validation of UTEP, through the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation, as a national leader in additive manufacturing. We look forward to addressing the needs of America Makes while offering our students opportunities to participate in groundbreaking work in a thriving technology industry.”
The amended agreement is an expansion of one originally signed in April 2015, which made UTEP the first America Makes Satellite Center. The updated pact expands the Keck Center’s national impact by providing additional services to America Makes member institutions that will add significant value to their association.
The new agreement will help fill the tremendous need in the additive manufacturing (AM) community for access to critical performance data from AM-produced parts.
Managed by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), America Makes is the nation’s leading public-private partnership to innovate and accelerate additive manufacturing technology.
“Since our inception, America Makes has worked tirelessly to foster a highly collaborative membership community for the open exchange of additive manufacturing information and research with the singular goal of advancing our industry,” said Rob Gorham, America Makes executive director.
“Today’s announcement of our newly updated agreement with UTEP further underscores our dedication to our industry and demonstrates the ongoing success of our collaboration with UTEP and the Keck Center. The goal of the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is to expand our current Satellite Center relationship by incorporating services that will provide tremendous strategic value and competitive advantage to the America Makes membership community.”
In 2015, America Makes designated UTEP’s Keck Center as its first America Makes Satellite Center with the goal of promoting America Makes’ mission and expanding its regional, industrial and technological footprint to innovate and accelerate 3D printing as well as increase domestic manufacturing and economic competitiveness.
Under the new MOU with America Makes, UTEP’s Keck Center will be the focal point of an effort to provide America Makes’ membership community with greater access to critical performance data for 3D-printed components.
“The Keck Center’s ongoing dedication to advancing additive manufacturing and all of the supporting technologies and creating a skilled workforce aligns perfectly with the mission of America Makes,” said Ralph Resnick, America Makes founding director and NCDMM president and chief executive officer.
“On behalf of all of us at America Makes, we are pleased to have our relationship with UTEP and the Keck Center enter this new phase. The America Makes membership community and industry at large will benefit greatly from the expanded services available at the America Makes Satellite Center.”
Additionally, workforce needs will be significantly addressed through the increased number of graduates who will have direct expertise in specific additive manufacturing and testing technologies.
“Dr. Ryan Wicker, director of the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation, has built an extraordinary facility, program and operation over the years,” said Theresa A. Maldonado, Ph.D., dean of UTEP’s College of Engineering. “The Keck Center is an international beacon for 3D manufacturing capabilities that support the fabrication of a range of components, from very large-scale aerospace fixtures to the most delicate biological elements for human health. At the same time, Dr. Wicker is deeply committed to developing a workforce with the technical and leadership skills required to advance this dynamic manufacturing environment for years to come.”
“UTEP has done an exemplary job growing the America Makes partnership for our students and community in El Paso,” said U.S. Rep.-elect Veronica Escobar.
“This program is not only expanding the skillset and opportunities in science and technology for our young minds but is also allowing us to be more competitive through advanced manufacturing research and innovation. UTEP is playing a leading role in economic development by connecting our talented workforce to job opportunities here in our region.”
An added benefit for America Makes members who seek services at the Keck Center will be an option to apply the costs incurred to build and test 3D-printed components toward membership fees through the ‘@Program.’
“It’s an arrangement that benefits all parties,” said Ryan Wicker, Ph.D., founder and director of the Keck Center. “Through this initiative, America Makes members will be able to utilize our state-of-the-art equipment and generate significant data that can in turn assist our industry in determining how best to use 3D printing for designing and producing next generation products. We will be working with 3D printing equipment manufacturers and materials suppliers to maintain a high level of technological advancement at the Keck Center. Lastly, our students will benefit from the direct work they perform and through the research avenues that companies will pursue as they learn more about their products.”
Wicker added that the collaboration with America Makes will make UTEP an attractive institution to companies in the additive manufacturing sector seeking a locale near high-end expertise and performance. Wicker points to the recent announcement from Aconity3D — one of the world’s emerging technology leaders in the production of 3D printing equipment, which installed its North American base of operations at UTEP in July — as evidence of the campus’ rising prominence.
“Every company that we work with will recognize the value UTEP adds,” Wicker said. “We are confident that we will produce a substantial quantity of follow-on research, increase industry-sponsored activities and interest in our region, and build this initiative into a thriving workforce and economic development platform for this community.”
The announcement was made Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, at a joint press conference with America Makes held at the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation at UTEP.