March 24, 2016
AIKEN, S.C. – The campus of USC Aiken has been selected as the proposed location for the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative for the Savannah River National Laboratory.
The choice brings the U.S. Department of Energy one step closer to the creation of a new facility to promote partnerships among industry, academia and government in the creation and implementation of new technology.
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, as the operator of SRNL, has selected the Aiken Advanced Manufacturing Partnership to develop a proposal for space for the collaborative facility. Representatives from USCA, SRNL, AAMP and the Economic Development Partnership announced the location and project developer at a news conference Thursday afternoon at USCA.
“What a great day in South Carolina. The azaleas are in full bloom, and the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative is taking off,” said Dr. Terry A. Michalske, director of SRNL and executive vice president of SRNS. “We look forward to the opportunity to work with the AAMP group in creating a brand new space for the Savannah River National Laboratory that can help us put science to work in collaboration with our industry, academic and government partners.”
Michalske said having the new facility on USCA’s campus will create a more open environment for collaborative research and development and will help launch “a new direction” for SRNL in areas such as process intensification, smart manufacturing, cyber, virtual simulation and advanced robotics.
“It will build on our history of innovation, but will really allow us to accelerate the pace of technological development and bring solutions to important DOE (Department of Energy) challenges,” Michalske said. “This space will allow SRNL to build the future of innovation. By thinking creatively, we can more effectively partner our talent with industry and academia to address a multitude of technology needs.”
Michalske said the facility will take SRNL from the confines of the Savannah River Site and into the center of a more vibrant science, engineering and economic community.
“We already see that these expanded collaborations bring new ideas that help us address government problems more effectively, but we also have great examples where that new idea for a government problem turns out to solve a problem in the economic sector, too.
“Sometimes it’s difficult for those ideas to cross the boundaries. By having government and industry working side by side, we won’t have those barriers anymore.”
Michalske also said the project will help create the next generation of the workforce and ensure that new technologies through the collaborative will benefit the regional and national economy in advanced manufacturing.
“We in (the) industry need that workforce really focused on science, technology and manufacturing because that is the future of this county,” Michalske said. “Without those areas, we’re in deep trouble.”
The proposed 70,000-square-foot space will include chemistry labs, engineering fabrication labs, high bay and industrial workspace and staff offices.
AAMP will provide and maintain the laboratory and office space, and SRNS will enter into a subsequent lease agreement for use of the facility. This innovative public/private approach will allow the DOE and SRNL to expand capabilities through private financing and collaboration on scientific and technological innovation, according to a news release from the DOE-SR Office Of External Affairs.
“AAMP is excited to have been selected to pursue this new opportunity,” said Will Williams of AAMP and president and CEO of the Economic Development Partnership. “We have assembled a strong and experienced team that has successfully delivered projects similar to this in the past. The collaboration between SRNL, USC Aiken and private industry is a strong catalyst for all parties involved, including our community.”
Team members include Keenan Development and the Turner Construction Company.
Williams called the facility a “game changer” for the community.
“It certainly will bring research and development through a whole new, vibrant partnership,” he said. “It strengthens the community, USC Aiken and the National Laboratory, putting this institution on a much higher profile than it already has. I think people need to pay attention. This does have the potential to take Aiken to the next level.”
Williams said now that AAMP has been selected to develop the space, the team could begin working on the design in the next couple of weeks.
“We’ll begin meeting with SRNS to make sure that the facility will meet their needs,” he said.
Once the facility is financed and ready to build, construction could begin in the first quarter of 2017 and be complete in early 2018, Williams said.
AAMP has proposed a location behind the softball field for the facility, according to USCA officials.
Williams said AAMP has not conducted any studies to determine the possible economic impact of the new facility but said it could bring a “substantial economic boost” to the Aiken area.
“The facility will bring in 100 new scientists who are very well compensated and will be close to the City of Aiken,” he said.
USCA Chancellor Dr. Sandra Jordan said having the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative for SRNL on campus will promote the “power of proximity,” allowing university students and researchers to interact with SRNL research to create future technologies.
“You never know when a new idea is going to be generated, but if you put smart, creative people together, something wonderful will happen,” Jordan said.
“This is going to be a place where students can see firsthand and be part of the really exciting things that are happening in government, energy, environment and industry,” he said. “I think it should ignite a passion in students that will help us develop the next generation of workers.
“They’ll be able to work with experts in solving problems, really putting what they learn in their classroom to work for some really important problems. That might end up in some ways being the most important part of this project. We’re going to benefit from that workforce, but they’re going to bring ideas that we would have never had.”