New project to develop metals seen aiding area

Feds, OSU, UM, firms to help fund venture

Glenn Daehn
Glenn Daehn

Northwest Ohio could potentially benefit from a $70 million contract the federal government plans to award today to a Columbus research firm that will partner with Ohio State University and the University of Michigan to develop lightweight metals.

President Obama is expected to announce the award today at the White House as part of an initiative to establish manufacturing innovation centers. The money will come from the U.S. Navy’s budget, according to Ohio State University.

Glenn Daehn, an engineering professor at Ohio State, said both universities will contribute $10 million toward the project. The universities will work with Columbus-based EWI, a member-based organization that develops and applies manufacturing technology innovation within the manufacturing industry.

EWI and the two universities will establish a research group, the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, in suburban Detroit that will oversee research projects at both universities.

In addition to the $70 million from the federal government, at least $70 million more will be invested by state governments and private companies.

A statement from Ohio State said the project could help retain manufacturing jobs and create up to 10,000 jobs in the Midwest.

“We are proud to be working with such an outstanding founding group in establishing this important national institute,” Ohio State Interim President Joseph A. Alutto said in the statement.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said the collaboration “will be able to leverage the resources of our region and enhance the manufacturing strengths of our country as a whole.”

Professor Daehn told The Blade the initiative could have great significance for northwest Ohio and the entire I-75 corridor.

He said that a number of companies — mostly likely including some in northwest Ohio — are providing funding for future research projects.

Professor Daehn added that the White House was keeping private the list of the participating companies until the award was formally announced.

“Right now the numbers and names of the companies involved are undisclosed,” Professor Daehn said.

“But I can tell you that there are a number of multinationals involved and this will impact the Toledo region,” he added. “The I-75 corridor is prominently discussed in this effort.”

Reportedly one of the companies contributing to the venture is Honda Motor Co.

The projects could include developing lightweight metals for hulls of Navy ships, corrosion-resistant propellers, and lighter, safer cars that are more energy-efficient, OSU said.

The Columbus Dispatch contributed to this report.

Contact Jon Chavez at: or 419-724-6128.