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[Image above] Although it isn’t Alfred University, Alfred State College’s campus in Alfred, N.Y., is still beautiful. At least this picture was taken from Alfred University. Thanks, Peter Metz, for the correction! Credit: Benjamin Esham; Flickr CC-SA BY 2.0



Manufacturing is having a really good year.

The success of the inaugural Ceramics Expo trade show back in April proved that ceramic manufacturing is back in a big way. And to meet the evolving needs of the manufacturing community, ACerS formed a new Division earlier this year just for ceramics and glass manufacturers.

Although there are positive indicators for manufacturing, there are also considerable concerns regarding a dearth of skilled workers. It’s a sentiment I’ve heard echoed beyond manufacturers, too—academia and industry alike are concerned about preparing and securing the next-generation workforce.

It’s a mission that directly drives the efforts of the Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation, an ACerS-led global partnership that is working to attract and train scientists and engineers to work with ceramic and glass materials. CGIF recently helped launch a career center to ensure that students and other job seekers are able to easily find opportunities specifically in the ceramic and glass fields.

Another big component to ensure that there are skilled workers to run the factories of tomorrow is ensuring that students get hands-on experience, training, and exposure to advanced materials. A new center in New York has sealed a multimillion-dollar deal to do just that.

The New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, N.Y.) recently received a $7.75 million grant that will allow construction of a new Center for Advanced Ceramic Manufacturing and Education.

The funding comes from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NYSUNY 2020 Challenge grant program, an initiative to spark economic development that kicked off in 2011. The Alfred award is part of the program’s fourth round of funding.

The multimillion investment will build a 9,000 ft2 facility for high-tech manufacturing equipment to bolster Alfred’s already leading position in advanced ceramics R&D and education.

“This new facility will play a key role in the economic revival of the Southern Tier and further solidifies New York as a global leader in high-tech research and manufacturing,” Governor Cuomo says in a press release on his website. “Companies the world over have turned to this college for the resources and highly skilled workforce needed to compete in today’s high-tech economy and with today’s announcement, even more will.”

The center will collaborate with other institutions—including industry, academic, and government entities—to “get products to market as quickly and as efficiently as possible,” according to the release. “The Center will work hand-in-glove with the University’s Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology to expand services and grow its current client base, which now includes General Electric, Corning Incorporated, Lockheed Martin, TAM, World Kitchen, EnrG, Ceralink, Freeform Fiber, and Boston Valley Terra Cotta—to name just a few.”

Because of the wealth of experts in ceramics and glass already located at Alfred, the Center will be able “to provide a full range of services to new and established companies,” according to the release. Collaboration among diverse types of institutions seems to be a continuing trend to merge business expertise with R&D capabilities.

“The new Advanced Ceramic Manufacturing Center will strengthen our ability to provide research and training opportunities that support the state’s ceramic and glass industry,” Doreen Edwards, dean of Alfred’s Inamori School of Engineering and ACerS Fellow, says in the press release. “The Center’s emphasis on creating products from advanced materials will support economic development in the region.”

According to an article in The Evening Tribune, the new center will:

  • Leverage the expertise and facilities of the University’s School of Engineering to help ceramic companies, and companies that use ceramic components, bring new products to market;

  • Strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the rural area between the Western New York and Southern Tier regions of the State;

  • Help attract new companies to the region through START-UP NY;

  • Increase the school’s ability to attract industry and federal funding for research and training in advanced manufacturing;

  • Provide students and working professionals with education and training in advanced manufacturing of ceramic materials; and

  • Increase the number of students pursuing and completing undergraduate and graduate degrees in ceramic engineering, glass, and materials science and engineering.