All three institutes will be selected through an open, competitive process, led by the Departments of Energy and Defense, with review from a multi-agency team of technical experts. Winning teams will be selected and announced later this year. Federal funds will be matched by industry co-investment, support from state and local governments, and other sources. Like the pilot institute, these Institutes are expected to become financially self-sustaining, and the plan to achieve this objective will be a critical evaluation criterion in the selection process. DOD and DOE are opening the competition for the three new institutes immediately:
- Department of Defense—”Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation“
- Department of Defense—”Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing“
- Department of Energy—”Next Generation Power Electronics Manufacturing“
Technology Areas for New Institutes
Federal agencies have selected technology areas that have broad commercial applications but meet critical mission needs. The selected technology areas also build off existing multi-agency priority initiatives like the Materials Genome Initiative. The three topic areas are:
- Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation: Advanced design and manufacturing tools that are digitally integrated and networked with supply chains can lead to ‘factories of the future’ forming an agile U.S. industrial base with significant speed to market advantage. A national institute focusing on the development of novel model-based design methodologies, virtual manufacturing tools, and sensor and robotics based manufacturing networks will accelerate the innovation in digital manufacturing increasing U.S. competitiveness.
- Lightweight and Modern Metals Manufacturing: Advanced lightweight metals possess mechanical and electrical properties comparable to traditional materials while enabling much lighter components and products. A national institute will make the U.S. more competitive by scaling-up research to accelerate market expansion for products such as wind turbines, medical devices, engines, armored combat vehicles, and airframes, and lead to significant reductions in manufacturing and energy costs.
- Next Generation Power Electronics: Wide bandgap semiconductor based power electronic devices represent the next major platform beyond the silicon based devices that have driven major technological advances in our economy over the last several decades. Wide bandgap technology will enable dramatically more compact and efficient power electronic devices for electric vehicles, renewable power interconnection, industrial-scale variable speed drive motors and a smarter more flexible grid; in addition to high-performance defense applications (e.g. reducing the size of a sub-station to a suit case).