Earlier this year, the College of Engineering established the Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing, the world's first university-based R&D center of its type.

The University of Kentucky has long been famous for its top-notch basketball teams. In the future, the school hopes to also be known as a hotbed of green manufacturing.

Earlier this year, the College of Engineering established the Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing (ISM). The organization will perform research for government, business and industrial clients. Specifically, it plans to focus on developing new methods of reducing, reusing, recycling and recovering manufacturing resources. The center will look into ways to redesign products and processes for sustainability, and it will investigate methods for remanufacturing products.

“The establishment of [the ISM] demonstrates [our] forward-thinking and recognition that American manufacturers must change the way we create products,” says Thomas Lester, dean of the College of Engineering. “Both productivity and profitability require the wise and frugal use of resources and raw materials, as well as production methods that reduce waste and energy consumption.”

The University of Kentucky hopes to capitalize on the growing popularity of green initiatives among manufacturers. A recent study conducted by Verdantix Inc. predicts there will be huge growth in the field as companies increase their sustainable practices. The research firm claims that American companies will spend $60 billion annually on green projects by 2014.

The goal of the ISM is to actively pursue academic research aimed at producing new and innovative manufacturing technologies at the product, process and systems levels; develop and implement academic degree and professional development educational programs; develop, deploy and commercialize new and innovative technologies; and disseminate new knowledge and practices.

As part of its outreach effort, the ISM will be working with overseas universities and with industry partners, such as Boeing, Caterpillar, Ford, General Electric, General Motors and Toyota. The organization also publishes the International Journal of Sustainable Manufacturing and hosts an annual Forum on Sustainable Manufacturing.

“The ISM will serve as a leading international organization committed to the development and deployment of sustainable manufacturing technologies for products, processes and systems for significantly enhancing manufacturing productivity, efficiency and quality,” says Ibrahim Jawahir, a professor of manufacturing systems who serves as ISM director. “[We will be engaging in] research, education and outreach programs aimed at new technology and workforce development for next-generation manufacturing.”

According to Jawahir, the ISM’s primary research goals include “some of the nation’s most urgent R&D and educational priorities, such as creation of energy efficiency and environmentally benign net-zero technologies for products and processes.”

The ISM currently has nine full-time faculty members, in addition to nine affiliate faculty and seven senior staff members. Jawahir and his colleagues are developing “innovative curricula to educate and train the next generation workforce for sustainable manufacturing.

“The ISM is unique, because it is the only university-based R&D center or institute worldwide to focus on sustainability from a manufacturing perspective,” claims Jawahir. “It will serve as a model for how cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and education can be brought to bear successfully on urgent 21st century problems.”

To learn more about the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing, call 859-257-6262 or click www.ism.uky.edu

Editors note: “On Campus” is a new column focusing on the latest research and educational efforts at top engineering schools in the United States. It will appear six times a year, alternating with Jamie Flinchbaugh’s “Leading Lean” column.