Case Western Reserve University part of two new national engineering collaborations with $52 million in funding

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — Case Western Reserve University will participate in two national engineering collaborations under more than $100 million in grants announced Wednesday.

The US National Science Foundation announced the creation of four new engineering research centers, each getting $26 million over five years. Each project will have a handful of universities working together, including a group leader. Case is part of two of four new centers, one run by Ohio State and the other by Texas Tech.

Ohio State will lead HAMMER, the Hybrid Autonomous Manufacturing Center Going from evolution to revolution. The research center will focus on the development and deployment of intelligent and autonomous manufacturing systems.

It will also help manufacturers transition to these new technologies and focus on training workers to use them, according to a Case press release. The center is expected to expand the capabilities of small manufacturers and help solve supply chain issues.

Professor John Lewandowski will lead Case’s team on the project. He said in a press release that faculty and facilities at the university, such as the Advanced Manufacturing Mechanical Reliability Center and Sears Think[box] help him get part of the project.

Northwestern University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and University of Tennessee, Knoxville will also be part of the Hammer Center. In a separate announcement, Ohio State said Hammer would be one of the biggest research investments of the past decade at the university.

Texas Tech will lead CASFER, the Center for Advancing Sustainable and Distributed Fertilizer production. The center will develop new technologies to create effective fertilizers that harm the environment less and reduce or eliminate carbon emissions from the process, according to Case’s announcement.

Nitrogen-based fertilizers are widely used but can lead to poor results. Excess nitrogen in soil and water can lead to algal blooms and oxygen-depleted dead zones in waterways. And the production of these fertilizers can create greenhouses and damage the Earth’s ozone layer.

Florida A&M University, Georgia Tech and MIT will also work on the project.

Professor Roger French, who leads Case’s team on CASFER, said a multidisciplinary team will work to manage and contain these fertilizers.

“We use geospatial satellite imagery and water measurements to identify land use and how best to manage nitrogen in the environment,” French said in a press release. “We are also able to use predictive artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning models to predict how it is moving through our watersheds.”

After the initial grants of $26 million over five years for each, they could be renewed for another five years with additional funding.

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