February 23, 2022 | Melanie Noble, UConn Tech Park
Businesses often face the challenge of keeping up with the latest technology to maintain a competitive edge. A web designer needs high-tech software, farmers need high yield fertilizers, a grocer needs accurate and fast scanners, banks need state-of-the art encryption algorithms.
For small and medium-sized manufacturing companies (SMEs), one of the most critical elements to staying ahead in business lies in incorporating newer digital technologies to develop their product and optimize their process.
Application of computer modeling and virtual testing before making a physical prototype can benefit SMEs by lowering design and manufacturing costs. However, these technologies and advanced training come at a high price that put them out of reach for many.
This is where Connecticut Manufacturing and Simulation Center (CMSC) steps in.
CMSC was established at University of Connecticut (UConn) Tech Park in 2016 in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), kicking off with a $2.1 million grant. Matt McCooe, CEO of Connecticut Innovations, expressed confidence in CMSC’s capacity for success, saying, “At the earliest stages of company development, efficiency is integral to success .… This center provides manufacturers with UConn’s expertise, which can have a direct impact on their bottom line.”
In September 2021, the center was awarded an additional EDA grant of $1.2 million (2021-2026) with a match from CT DECD of $150,000. As part of this award, CMSC will have the honor of hosting EDA University Center Economic Development Technical Assistance Programs.
Since its opening, Professor Jeongho Kim, CMSC Center Director, has turned CMSC into an indispensable, state-of-the-art technical shared resource for CT SME computational modeling and simulation. The center has become a foundation for SME innovation and competitiveness in the global economy by training a workforce at a higher level of technical literacy in modeling and simulation. The center has also strengthened its training capability by investing in advanced, high performance 504 HPC computer cores.
To date, CMSC has provided industry support for 40 CT SME manufacturing simulation projects. In addition to modeling capabilities, CMSC has trained a robust workforce pipeline of 1400+ UConn students and 136 working professionals to support the state’s workforce needs.
Kim describes older, outdated manufacturing processes as trial-and-error, time-consuming, and costly. However, with the advanced software modeling now available, the picture has shifted dramatically, and a manufacturing process that once took 1,000 trial and error checks during product design may today take just three or four.
With access to CMSC’s virtual product modeling and process generation and training, SMEs benefit in areas critical to business success: improved quality, reduced time to market, increased productivity, reduced development costs, and manufacturing workforce development.
Kim takes great pride in the center’s achievements. He says, “We are delighted to fulfill the missions of EDA, and to work with Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development to promote economic and workforce development of the State of Connecticut.”
With over 24 years of experience in finite element modeling and simulation, Kim maintains his keen focus and dedication to the CMSC mission “to provide technical assistance to the Connecticut manufacturing community.” He has even greater goals for CMSC in the coming years, stressing that it is vital to continue making this technology available to a manufacturing community that is actively shifting to a future state in Industry 4.0. Shifting modeling from a 3-D realm to a 4-D realm allows for an even more sophisticated modeling algorithm called “digital twinning” (a digital copy of a physical system), driving a new generation of advanced analytics for SME products and processes.
“The CT Manufacturing Simulation Center (CMSC) mission … supports economic development and job growth in our state. In addition, CMSC’s training of the SME workforce … is an important component of our state’s workforce development strategy.”
– David Lehman, Commissioner, Department of Economic and Community Development
For more information about CMSC and its services, visit cmsc.uconn.edu.
CMSC was established with support from the United States Economic Development Administration and Connecticut Innovations in 2016-2021, and Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development in 2021-2026.
The EDA’s University Center (UC) establishes UCs that support innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship, resiliency, and inclusiveness.
Jeongho Kim is Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UConn.