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Ohio State establishes new research center for advanced manufacturing

3 men and 1 woman looking at a robot arm
HAMMER Director Glenn Daehn (left) discusses advanced manufacturing at the AIMS Lab with Nate Ames, Dean Ayanna Howard and Michael Groeber

The Ohio State University will lead a multi-institutional engineering research center to develop and deploy revolutionary, intelligent autonomous manufacturing systems and educate a future manufacturing workforce. The center will create approaches central to next-generation manufacturing to create jobs, train a diverse workforce and ease supply chain issues by growing a new American industry.

The National Science Foundation announced funding today for the Hybrid Autonomous Manufacturing, Moving from Evolution to Revolution (HAMMER) Engineering Research Center, for five years at $26 million with the ability to renew for another $26 million for an additional five years. If fully realized, it will be one of the largest research investments in the last decade for Ohio State.

Ohio State will partner with Case Western Reserve University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Northwestern University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville along with more than 70 industry, educational and technical organization collaborators to develop and implement new manufacturing technologies for agile, high-performance and high-quality components.

Glenn Daehn, the Mars G. Fontana Professor of Metallurgical Engineering, will serve as the director of the center.


“This transformational investment for Ohio State is about much more than research, though that alone is certainly significant. It’s about enhancing U.S. innovation and reclaiming our nation’s position as a leader in domestic manufacturing,” said Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson. “We must invest in both American-made products and our local workforce to safeguard against future supply chain challenges and ensure we remain at the forefront of technological advancements that will transform the way we do business and improve our lives.”

Through basic, applied and translational research, HAMMER will accelerate the development and deployment of intelligent autonomous manufacturing systems that will use multiple processes to control material properties and component dimensions to allow rapid customization. These systems will learn from each operation, improving themselves over time.

The new research center and its partner network offers a rare opportunity to develop not only the future of engineering, but also future engineers. Robust partnerships with industry, educational and technical organizations will enable HAMMER to train personnel at many levels from pre-college to practicing engineers, at scale.

The HAMMER-led, next-generation certification standards will facilitate widespread adoption of advanced technologies and the associated workforce. Diversity and inclusion is one of the pillars of the new research center. Special emphasis will be focused on including urban, military and Appalachian communities in educational pipeline programs.

“HAMMER is one of the most significant, high-impact, large-scale research centers to be established at Ohio State. It will advance the current state of manufacturing technologies by uniting design, tools, intelligence and computational materials engineering into a single framework and providing new opportunities to commercialize research,” said Grace Wang, executive vice president of research, innovation and knowledge at Ohio State. “This will enable the agile production of new components in ways that are not now attainable, and with systems that allow for rapid customization and high-quality performance.”

In addition to the collaboration with the four partner universities, HAMMER will include convergent research across colleges at Ohio State. The College of Arts and Sciences, College of Medicine and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs join the College of Engineering in supporting the new engineering research center.

“The NSF investment affirms the visionary direction of Ohio State, as well as engineering’s prominence in AI and robotics,” said Dean of the College of Engineering Ayanna Howard. “We are committed to paving the way to a reimagined future that builds upon a culture of diversity and inclusion, strong workforce development efforts and an expanding innovation ecosystem. Most importantly, this collaboration will help catapult revolutionary ideas while training our most valuable asset, talented students.”

Daehn said the NSF and industry investment in HAMMER is only part of the broader future for the research center.

“We really want to develop what is a new industry based on hybrid, autonomous manufacturing. We have a team of nearly 40 of the best, most innovative academics in manufacturing, materials and artificial intelligence across five institutions, and over the past three years developed a vision of what is really a new way of manufacturing and developed plans to change the manufacturing industry,” he said. “We welcome people reaching out to us asking to be involved.” 

The NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) program supports convergent research, education and technology translation at U.S. universities to lead to strong societal impacts.

Each ERC has interacting foundational components that go beyond the research project, including engineering workforce development at all stages, a culture of diversity and inclusion where all participants gain mutual benefit and value creation within an innovation ecosystem that will outlast the lifetime of the ERC.

Since the program’s start in 1985, NSF has funded 75 ERCs throughout the United States. NSF supports each center for up to 10 years. This investment has led to many successes, including:

  • More than 240 spinoff companies
  • More than 900 patents
  • More than 14,400 total bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees to ERC students
  • Numerous research outcomes enabling new technologies

Over the years, the ERC program has adapted to meet the nation’s future workforce and technological needs.


Article written by Ohio State News, August 10, 2022