Wayne State Summer Academy in Sustainable Manufacturing Students Visit LIFT

In July, the 2018 Wayne State University REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) Site: Summer Academy in Sustainable Manufacturing (NSF award #1461031) undergraduate researchers visited LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow institute), located in Detroit, MI. The visit was a unique opportunity for the site’s undergraduate researchers to connect the site’s research thrusts with nationally recognized manufacturing research and development.

Wayne State’s Summer Academy in Sustainable Manufacturing offers unique summer research experiences in the challenging field of sustainable manufacturing to local and national undergraduate students from two and four-year institutions. This is in response to the urgent need to create effective undergraduate research programs and experienced engineers in sustainable manufacturing, which is vital to the future design and manufacture of materials with minimal environmental, social, and economic impacts.

The visit had a particular impact on two REU students who are working on lightweight advanced high strength steel material characterization and advanced composite material fabrication and testing at Wayne State University. This was also the first time many of the 2018 co-hort students were introduced to the broader Manufacturing USA network, which is a potential pathway for the Summer Academy in Sustainable Manufacturing participants to continue their research and professional interests.

Through advanced research projects, the program introduces undergraduate students to the forefront of sustainable manufacturing research and provides students with the skills and pathways to pursue four-year and graduate programs to learn the knowledge and skills needed to become engineers in the manufacturing industry of the future. Wayne State site’s intellectual focus is in five sustainable manufacturing technical areas: (1) nano-coating and lightweight materials and manufacturing, (2) energy storage materials, batteries, and inversion devices, (3) remanufacturing and manufacturing sustainability assessment, (4) computer simulation and tool development for manufacturing sustainability, and (5) chemical-energy-water nexus.

Undergraduate research projects within these technical areas cross-cut National Science Foundation (NSF) directed research areas, such as material, product, and process design, manufacturing systems, and sustainable engineering. The Summer Academy is an intense, 10-week program that supports ten undergraduate students per year for summer research and professional development/training experience. Over the duration of the summer research program, students participate in three research seminars, three skill development seminars, four lectures (including three facility tours), and two cultural activities – in addition to their research activities with their faculty mentor.