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Ohio State home to largest NSF industry-university research cooperative

Antonio RamirezRamirezSince 2010, the mission of the Manufacturing and Materials Joining Innovation Center’s (Ma²JIC) has been to establish a collaborative research environment between academia and industry, advancing development and application of materials joining and additive manufacturing knowledge while educating future scientists and engineers. A multi-institution research center, Ma²JIC’s lead site is The Ohio State University, led by Materials Science and Engineering Professor Antonio Ramirez, with partner sites at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Colorado School of Mines, University of Waterloo and Lehigh University.

In fiscal year 2018, Ma²JIC was the largest Industry-University Cooperative Research Center in the nation based on amount of membership income—$4.2 million including dues and in-kind support. The National Science Foundation's IUCRC program is designed to engage industry with university research to perform cutting-edge, pre-competitive fundamental research in areas of interest to industry that drive innovation and strengthen the U.S. economy. As the largest IUCRC in the nation, Ma²JIC has been leading materials joining innovation in industries ranging from energy generation and aerospace to automotive and defense. 

Ma²JIC’s 48 industry members guide the direction of the center’s research through active involvement and mentoring. The cooperative nature of the center means that members have access to all projects and results across Ma²JIC. Their $55,000 annual membership fee gains them access to over $16 million in research.

Beyond funding, Ma²JIC’s research output in 2018 was also notable. The center's collaborative work produced 27 publications in peer-reviewed journals, 74 conference presentations and papers and five dissertations.

Ma²JIC’s industry members interact with leading universities involved in manufacturing and materials joining research through the development of collaborative research projects. Members have reported using these collaborations to great benefit. This past year, 80 percent of members said they developed partnerships with university faculty or research scientists through one-to-one research contracts, collaboration on a grant, and/or consulting. Sixty percent of members said they developed partnerships with other industry advisory board members through research partnership, collaboration, and/or joint investment. 

As a recent example of member satisfaction, weld modeling helped a Ma²JIC member accelerated the development of a state of the art welder, allowing the member to realize savings in the millions of dollars per year.

"Being a member of Ma²JIC has allowed a number of industry participants to gather with common calls on a pretty competitive basis to cover issues that technically affect each of us in our industry," explained Stress Engineering Services Managing Principal Patrick Boster, a welding engineering alum. "We’re able to mutually benefit from sharing our experiences and discussing potential solutions and how we may want them addressed. We’re then able to make a contribution to the industry as well as really learn and gain leverage on each others' experiences.".

If your company is interested in joining Ma²JIC or learning more about the center and its research, please visit ma2jic.osu.edu, or contact Center Manager Brooke Felts, (Felts.13[at]osu.edu).

abridged and edited version of original Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering article