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Advanced Manufacturing Institute

AMI Engineering Success in Kansas

(Manhattan, Kan., August 4, 2008) – Kansas State University's Advanced Manufacturing Institute, also known as AMI, is proving to be a vital link to economic development in Kansas.

"The Advanced Manufacturing Institute's influence on economic development in Kansas is evident," said Brad Kramer, institute director. "In the past 10 years, AMI's projects have resulted in the creation of more than 800 new jobs, more than 85 retained jobs, more than $200 million in increased sales and more than $9 million in reduced costs to our clients."

To support economic and technology development in the state, the Advanced Manufacturing Institute provides a full spectrum of services, including business planning and research, product development, design verification, custom equipment development, manufacturing process development, bioprocessing and chemical engineering, and technology development and commercialization. The institute works with entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes – from startups to Fortune 500 companies – in every market imaginable, including manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, food, chemicals, plastics, bioprocessing, equipment and machinery, Kramer said.

"The Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation is proud to support the Advanced Manufacturing Institute as one of our Centers of Excellence," said Tracy Taylor, the corporation's president and chief executive officer. "Year after year, AMI exceeds our expectations and fulfills our goal of mentoring entrepreneurs and supporting new companies by maintaining employment and fostering innovation and commercialization of new technologies."

The Advanced Manufacturing Institute's efforts in establishing an entrepreneurial climate in Kansas have helped with economic expansion in the state, according to Kramer. Entrepreneurs generate jobs by hiring local workers and using regional resources to build and run their businesses. This effectively creates growth and wealth in communities, he said.

"The challenge is that many entrepreneurs do not have the resources for business planning, product development and commercialization," Kramer said. "To ensure the success of these ventures, AMI provides the support businesses need."

Larry Menard discovered this when he worked with the Advanced Manufacturing Institute to find market opportunities for his PowerDolly, a battery-powered hand truck that can transport up to 600 pounds. "When I started my PowerDolly project, I knew it had potential, but I didn't know what to do to take my invention to market," he said. "AMI helped me write patents, build the model for production and find a manufacturer -- everything I needed from start to finish."

Along with its entrepreneurial efforts, the Advanced Manufacturing Institute is equipped to work with large corporations, such as Cessna. Recently, the institute completed a project for Cessna involving designing, building and testing a metal bonding machine that joins flat aluminum parts together with a combination of heat and pressure. The machine significantly reduces labor and cuts the bonding cycle time in half.

"We are delighted with the metal bonding machine and the efficiency it will provide Cessna," said Ron Weddle, director of manufacturing research and development at Cessna. "We value our partnership with the Advanced Manufacturing Institute and are actively working with them on additional projects."

Another aspect of the institute's contributions to economic development efforts in Kansas includes advancing the state's bioscience initiative, Kramer said. To help put Kansas at the forefront of innovation, the Advanced Manufacturing Institute established a bioprocessing team that can help develop energy-efficient processes for converting raw materials into products or recovering valuable products or co-products from waste streams. The institute also can help determine the commercial viability of these processes as they are being designed and tested. The team has experience in a broad range of unit operations including fermentation, digestion, reaction, separations, waste stream co-product recovery, polymer extrusion and other conversion technologies. The institute is currently working with several Kansas agricultural associations to solve waste issues.

The institute also is helping Kansas by boosting the number of skilled professionals in the state through its internship program, Kramer said. As interns, K-State students work with a team of experts on client projects to gain real-world experience and establish ties with Kansas companies.

"The knowledge and network the institute's interns gain through this experience often lead to job opportunities upon graduation," Kramer said. "In the last decade, the Advanced Manufacturing Institute has mentored more than 400 K-State student interns in various academic disciplines, including engineering, business, journalism and mass communications, and product design. Our graduates have accepted positions at Kansas companies such as AGCO, Burns and McDonnell, Caterpillar, Cessna, Cerner Corporation, Garmin and Sprint, to name a few."

"The intern program helped expand my technical skills and problem-solving techniques," said Brandon Sager, a former Advanced Manufacturing Institute intern and a 2006 K-State bachelor's degree graduate in mechanical engineering. Sager now works for Exxon Mobil Development.

"Working on real company projects taught me to communicate more effectively and to work productively within a multidisciplinary team," Sager said. "This was a great opportunity to learn about potential job opportunities, and I recommend the program to other students."

Roger Craft, former president and CEO of Vektek, said, "K-State engineering graduates who have been through the AMI program and were hired by Vektek after graduation have exhibited capabilities of an engineer with two to three years industrial experience."

"The Advanced Manufacturing Institute is a valuable resource to Kansas," Kramer said. "Its contributions to the advancement of entrepreneurs, companies, communities and students are setting the stage for a strong state economy with a foundation in technological development. AMI equals engineering success."