Montana State University

Montana Manufacturing Extension Center receives grant to train wind engineers

October 28, 2010 -- MSU News Service

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The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center at Montana State University recently received funding for the first year of a three-year project to train MMEC engineers and other engineers and technicians working for wind equipment manufacturing companies in Montana and elsewhere.

"Energy development is very important to Montana's economic future. The capacity to manufacture components and equipment that produce energy can play a key role in this economic future. This grant will help Montana manufacturers participate in the wind energy and wind turbine industries," said Steve Holland, MMEC director.

The project will provide manufacturers with trainings and hands-on workshops to become more effective, qualified suppliers to the wind energy industry while leveraging the resources of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and other national organizations. MEP is nationwide network of more than 70 not-for-profit centers (including MMEC) whose sole purpose is to provide small and medium-sized manufacturers with the tools to increase their profit-lines and streamline their processes through the implementation of lean manufacturing techniques.

The BlueGreen Alliance, in partnership with MMEC and three other centers (Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center, Indiana Purdue TAP and West Virginia MEP), the American Wind Energy Association, the United Steelworkers, the Global Wind Network, and the Alliance for American Manufacturing will work to accelerate the development of the domestic supply of components and innovations for the emerging wind energy industry.

The partnership will receive $560,000 for the first year. Subsequent year's funding is dependent on performance. MMEC will receive services from the BlueGreen Alliance.

The grant is part of $9.1 million from the National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The cooperative agreements are for 22 projects designed to enhance the productivity, technological performance and global competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.

Granted through competitive processes to nonprofit organizations, these projects will be implemented through MEP's national system of over 400 centers, field offices and partners, including MMEC. The funding will help encourage the creation and adoption of improved technologies and provide resources to develop new products that respond to changing market needs.

"A vibrant manufacturing sector drives American innovation and is central to our economic growth and global competitiveness," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "With the right investments, we can continue to create highly valued manufacturing jobs building great products and sell them around the world."

The Montana Manufacturing Extension Center is a statewide manufacturing outreach and assistance center staffed by full-time professionals with degrees in engineering and extensive experience in manufacturing and business in a variety of industries. MMEC has a proven record of positive impact for client firms and the economy.

Founded in 1901, NIST is a nonregulatory agency of the Commerce Department that promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership is America's leading resource for helping U.S. manufacturers use innovation to grow their profitability as they compete for customers in the global marketplace.

Steve Holland at 406-994-3812 or sholland@coe.montana.edu