writes copy 16 May 2024

NSF Awards Kentucky 1M for Advanced Manufacturing

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The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to the University of Louisville for the Advancing Manufacturing and Building Construction Technologies (NSF AMT) project. This initiative is part of the NSF Regional Innovation Engines program. The Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC) will oversee the project, with the University of Louisville, ASTRO America, and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System serving as partners. In the future, this consortium could be eligible for an additional $160 million. Recently, the Generate Advanced Manufacturing Excellence for Change (GAME Change) grant was awarded, aiming to create a more resilient 3D printing ecosystem in the region. This is certainly good news for the area and local 3D printing centers, such as the Additive Manufacturing Institute of Science & Technology at the University of Louisville.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said of the deal, 'œBy focusing on advancing sustainable additive manufacturing technologies, this project has the potential to support expansion and attract companies and additional high-wage, high-skilled jobs for our commonwealth. These kinds of initiatives add to the remarkable strides being made by Kentucky's entrepreneurs, companies and colleges and universities toward building our state's future economy.'¯Congratulations to the AMT team for securing this award and both demonstrating and improving Kentucky's competitiveness and capacity for research and innovation.'

'œThe innovative research we produce at UofL becomes most meaningful when applied to advancements that improve our community. We're proud to continue working with our partners to translate our additive manufacturing knowledge into solutions that revolutionize the way we manufacture everything from medication to computer chips,” University of Louisville President Kim Schatzel stated.

'œWe are eager to continue the work and build upon the partnerships we developed as part of our initial NSF Engines proposal through this award. It is a testament to the importance and potential of both our region and additive manufacturing technologies,”  KSTC President Terry Samuel said,

As part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, the current award focuses on workforce training and attracting new businesses to additive manufacturing. The NSF’s efforts are commendable, particularly in Kentucky and the surrounding regions, which are recognized as manufacturing hubs. While some areas are thriving, much of the broader region struggles with higher unemployment and lower wages compared to the rest of the United States. Despite low costs, Kentucky’s GDP per capita ranks 46th in the country, with a GDP growth rate that is about average, contributing around 1% to the US economy. Crime rates are relatively low, especially compared to neighboring states, and Kentucky is the 9th cheapest state to live in. In Louisville, an annual income of $54,000 is necessary to afford rent, compared to $60,405 in El Paso, $69,177 in Austin, and $87,550 in Seattle. With its abundant nature, relatively inexpensive housing, real communities, and small-town ambiance, Kentucky is a place of contrasts. It is neither a highly sought-after destination nor a place to flee from, although it does face persistent issues of poverty and inequality.

One could easily envision a renewed cool emerging, with people flocking to higher-paying jobs combined with a low cost of living'”a state where they can afford to comfortably raise a family. If Kentucky manages to offer higher salaries while maintaining its affordability, it could become increasingly attractive, especially for families. Therefore, investing in this area makes more sense than sending stimulus checks to places like New York or California, where the money would likely just cover higher rent costs. Instead, in Kentucky, funds could be directed towards research.

If Kentucky became a Silicon Valley of 3D Printing, it could potentially grow in population without a corresponding spike in living costs. Of course no one wants to be Silicon Valley exactly. Even the rich can’t afford there anymore and places like Austin, once affordable and trendy, have quickly become costly and lost their initial appeal.

Investing in workforce development and business growth in additive manufacturing is an exemplary strategy for regional development and building technological capacity. Such initiatives can have numerous positive ripple effects. Hopefully, the people of Kentucky will utilize these funds to pioneer innovations in 3D printed construction and create a thriving hub for this technology.

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