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Thursday, Feb. 22
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

IU named partner for Chicago-based Digital Lab

IU was named a partner for the $320 million Chicago-based Digital Lab of Manufacturing. The lab’s building plans were announced by President Barack Obama on Feb. 25.

More than 30 academic partners and 40 industrial partners will join IU in the new manufacturing innovation. It also has support from more than 500 companies and organizations.

The new research institute is funded by a $70 million Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation grant from the Department of Defense, with an additional $250 million in funds from private partnerships.

The Digital Lab for Manufacturing is part of President Obama’s National Network for Manufacturing.

Obama said it is a priority to make the United States a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing, according to the Digital Lab’s website.

“IU will be the nation’s flagship research institute in digital manufacturing and design innovation, which will apply cutting-edge mobile, cloud and high-performance computing capabilities to reduce the time and costs of manufacturing,” News and Media Director Ryan Piurek said.

“It will accelerate new product development and make the U.S. manufacturing sector more competitive.”

Rather than housing a lab itself, IU will be connected to the University of Illinois Digital Labs that run the Digital Lab in Chicago.

The lab and IU will also be connected to network manufacturing partners and research sites across the U.S.

“IU’s high-performance computing resources, such as our Big Red II supercomputer and our vast expertise in cloud computing and cybersecurity, including faculty and labs in the School of Informatics and Computing and at University Information Technology Services, make the University a strong and ideal match for the Digital Lab,” Piurek said.

He said IU’s pre-existing partnerships with Digital Lab’s key partners were also a factor.

These partnerships include Microsoft, Rolls-Royce North America, Boeing, Dow, General Electric and  Honeywell, among others.

Digital Lab partners will have access to IU’s supercomputer, Big Red II.
IU-Bloomington houses the supercomputer, but it serves as a community resource for
all IU campuses.

The supercomputer allows critical new research for IU faculty and researchers, and operates at a processing speed of one petaflop — meaning one thousand trillion floating-point operations per second.  

Along with access to Big Red II, Digital Lab will use an online software program as a cloud for computing research expertise and technologies, cyberinfrastructure and cybersecurity expertise, as well as large-scale software development. Digital Lab is expected to use an online software program called the Digital Manufacturing Commons.

The DMC software will allow Digital Lab partners to share data during the design stages of products. This will enable a real-time collaboration of major data by creating a large online network of people, machines and factories.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to be a part of a nationwide initiative...that has enormous potential to reinvigorate the U.S. manufacturing sector, speed up innovation and create jobs,” Piurek said.

IU Vice President for Research Jorge José said IU’s Advanced Visualization Lab, Engineering Design Research Laboratory, Multibody Dynamics Lab and Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing Lab will all participate in research for Digital Lab’s mission, according to a press release.

“We’re confident that many of our unmatched research, faculty and technological resources will enable us to be a major player in helping the Digital Lab successfully transform the country’s economic landscape,” Piurek said.

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