posted on May 17: $19-million centre puts McMaster at forefront of manufacturing research


[img_inline align=”right” src=”” caption=”Andy Hrymak, Jennifer Jonkers, Mo Elbestawi “]Nearly two years after the University, the federal and provincial governments and a number of leading industrial partners committed $19 million to create the McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI), the facility is open for business.

Industrial partners, government officials, faculty, staff and students gathered this morning to celebrate the opening of the new institute, housed in an addition to the John Hodgins Engineering building.

University President Peter George said the institute provides undergraduate and graduate students with a tremendous opportunity to apply their knowledge to industry-relevant research and development issues, adding that these kinds of partnerships with industry will continue to be a major thrust at McMaster.

“We have become a partner, a player in the international markets, a resource for the industrial sector and a crucial link in our province's and country's economic well-being.”

Experts consider the MMRI to be Canada's most advanced and best-equipped manufacturing research laboratory.

David Braley, president of Orlick Industries, donated $1 million to establish an endowment fund for the David Braley Chair in Advanced Manufacturing.

Braley, chair of the MMRI advisory board, told the gathering that partnerships between business and education are positive for the community and a “tremendous asset” for research and development initiatives.

Through the institute, McMaster engineers will conduct industry-relevant research connected to the polymer, automotive and aerospace industries and the tool, die and mould industry.

Mo Elbestawi, MMRI director and a professor of mechanical engineering, said the 15,000 sq. ft. facility, which will house 13 industrial machines and a robot, is designed to meet the sophisticated research and development needs of leading manufacturers.

“The institute is of international calibre and our work here will undoubtedly lead to advances in several manufacturing technologies in the areas of machining, metal forming, polymer processing and automation.”

For example, several years ago the Cobra Machine Tool Company of Windsor, a founding partner in the MMRI, developed a machining process that combined two cutting technologies in the same machine and would be a boon to the automobile manufacturing sector.

The firm came to McMaster to develop the process into a marketable technology. McMaster researchers played an integral role in designing the new machine and extending the application to machine parts.

Later this month, Ford Motor Co.'s research and development centre in Michigan will take delivery of the first prototype machine.

Elbestawi credits industry and government support as key factors in the institute's creation.

To date, industry has invested more than $5 million in either cash or in-kind contributions. Orlick Industries, Siemens Westinghouse, GM Canada, Cobra Machine Tool, Husky Injection Molding Systems, Liburdi Engineering and Silicon Graphics Canada are among the founding industrial sponsors.

Through the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Ontario Innovation Trust and the Ontario Research & Development Challenge Fund, the federal and provincial governments collectively contributed more than $10 million to the institute.

Materials and Manufacturing Ontario, a provincial centre of excellence, also invested nearly $7 million in research by professors Elbestawi and Andy Hrymak, MMRI associate director, during the last decade.

Fourth-year mechanical engineering student Jennifer Jonkers is a summer research assistant in the MMRI. She told the audience she chose to study at McMaster because of its “dedication to hands on innovative teaching.”

She said her experience working with the institute in the last two years has given her extensive design and manufacturing experience and reinforced her belief that McMaster is innovative.

MMRI Opening: Andy Hrymak, MMRI associate director (left); Jennifer Jonkers, student; Mo Elbestawi, MMRI director

Photo: Shelly Easton