Campus News

Kentucky Helps Launch Light-Materials Manufacturing Institute

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 25, 2014) — Kentucky will both benefit from and make important contributions to Detroit's new, $148 million light-materials manufacturing institute, announced today by President Barack Obama.

The American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII) will receive $70 million in Department of Defense funding, with $78 million in matching support from a public-private consortium, including more than $4 million from Kentucky.

ALMMII is charged with developing and deploying advanced lightweight materials manufacturing technologies, and implementing education and training programs to prepare the workforce. The institute is one of three to be created as part of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation, a White House initiative founded to help U.S. manufacturers employ leading-edge technology to become more competitive.

The ALMMII proposal was selected through a competitive process conducted by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research. Sen. Mitch McConnell, who strongly supported the proposal, said today's announcement was "great news" for the Commonwealth.

"This grant will help support domestic manufacturing and research jobs in Kentucky, and will lead to significant developments in manufacturing technology that may have positive applications for the U.S. military," McConnell said.

Kentucky, with its strong aluminum manufacturing base, also stands to benefit from education and training programs developed by the institute, says John Walz, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Engineering.

"This is a great opportunity for the college and for the university, to be a significant partner in a project of this scale and of this importance," Walz said. "Our participation in ALMMII will produce dividends, for the university, for the partnership and for the Commonwealth." 

UK will also contribute to, and benefit from, collaborative research and development projects through the institute, said Yang-Tse Cheng, Frank J. Derbyshire Professor of Materials Science and one of the participating faculty members.  

Faculty members will contribute to various projects that are vitally important to Kentucky, and to the United States as a whole, through the Center for Aluminum Technology, Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing, and Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering. These collaborative research projects will also help enhance UK's research and development capabilities in lightweight metals, Cheng said.

UK President Eli Capilouto said UK's participation would help to advance the university's mission in a number of ways.

“UK’s partnership in this institute engages our human capital and intellectual curiosity in collaborative and creative scholarship,” Capilouto said. “Our role will support research and development in ways that are significant to education we provide, industries we support in our state and the economic competitiveness of our nation.”

UK is one of nine universities that have joined with 34 private companies and 17 other organizations in the public-private consortium, which was initiated by the Ohio-based tech nonprofit group EWI along with the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University.

UK's portion of the cost-sharing, $2 million, will come in the form of in-kind support from the UK College of Engineering over the next five years, including access to specialized high-tech equipment at its Center for Aluminum Technology and faculty participation in various projects.

Additional cash and in-kind contributions will come from Kentucky's Department of Workforce Investment, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, and the state's Cabinet for Economic Development.

MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Hautala, 859-323-2396;