Metropolitan State University of Denver is about to become a leader in additive manufacturing, thanks to a $1 million investment from Lockheed Martin. The money will go towards the construction of the first additive manufacturing laboratory in Colorado, which will be built over the next four years. The Lockheed Martin Additive Manufacturing Laboratory will allow students to use 3D printing technology to design and build aerospace components, and the grant also establishes an endowed director for the university’s Advanced Manufacturing Sciences Institute. The new Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building celebrated its grand opening on June 22nd.
Obviously, MSU anticipates that the laboratory will be a draw for technical-minded students, but the university, as well as Lockheed Martin, also hope that it will be instrumental in building the next generation of workers, who will be in dire need of advanced technological skills such as 3D printing. The centerpiece of 3D printing at the new laboratory is a Stratasys Fortus 900mc.
“I think this printer and lab uniquely position MSU Denver as an educational institution in the field of tooling (parts for making other parts) development,” said Robert Park, PhD, the director of the Advanced Manufacturing Sciences Institute.
Such centers are becoming increasingly important to educational and aerospace efforts to utilize the latest technology. Brian O’Connor, Lockheed’s Vice President of Production Operations, envisions that the students of today and tomorrow will use such technology to take the aerospace industry to new heights.
Lockheed Martin, which has facilities in Colorado, has become heavily invested in the state’s students, particularly in terms of getting them interested in STEM fields including aerospace. The company has partnered with the Colorado Space Business Roundtable (CSBR) to provide local high school and college students with the opportunity to participate in hands-on programs that give them an idea of what it’s like to work in such fields. Lockheed is one of several partner companies at which students can spend two weeks during the summer. The goal is to interest students in the kinds of programs that MSU and the University of Colorado have to offer.
“We’re helping students design with those new concepts in mind so the next space missions are innovative, affordable and faster to market,” he said. “This lab will help students unleash their creativity in engineering tomorrow’s great advancements.”
“Our companies cannot find people to use all this advanced manufacturing technology,” said MSU President Stephen Jordan. “We are creating a workforce for our companies, students are getting the opportunity at jobs starting at $65,000 a year and MSU Denver gets a win in for having a nationally unique program.”
It’s not just additive manufacturing technology that MSU students will become well-versed in, either. Subtractive manufacturing will have a formidable presence at the university, as well, thanks to investments from Hartwig Inc. The St. Louis-based company is providing $2 million worth of CNC machines, inspection equipment, software, tooling and consumables to the school.
“We have a 10-year agreement for CNC machines at no cost to the university,” Jordan said. “Every three years we will get brand new machines, which means brand new learning technology. This is a unique arrangement that doesn’t exist in many parts of the country.”
In return, Hartwig will have access to MSU’s new $60 million Aerospace and Engineering Sciences (AES) building, which opened last week, to demonstrate its technology to buyers and investors. Another company utilizing the AES building, and investing in the university, is York Space Systems, which will move its headquarters into the building this fall. The company is planning to build 150 to 200 small satellites per year, and the AES building will house its full engineering and design team and production facility, in addition to a Mission Operations Center.
“Students learning to operate and control satellites with have access to this communication room and also in satellite production for the U.S. Army,” Jordan said. “This is just another extremely valuable unique aspect to the program…Something particularly fun [about the AES building] is the 50 percent mock-up of the Orion spacecraft, which will be the first spacecraft to travel to Mars. Students built this structure with the guidance of Lockheed engineers and even at 50 percent, it’s huge. This is just another example of how theory and practice come together in one building.”
Discuss in the MSU forum at 3DPB.com.[Sources: Denver Post, Insider MSU Denver]