(EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.) U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, (R-Collinsville,) today presented grants totaling roughly $598,000 to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville programs that stimulate the economy, help local businesses improve processes and become more efficient, and provide retraining and jobs for dislocated workers.
The grants totaled $360,000 for the National Corn-to-Ethanol-Research Center and $238,000 for the Southwest Illinois Advanced Manufacturing (SIAM) Center. SIAM is a partnership between the SIUE School of Engineering and Lewis and Clark Community College.
From a podium in the lobby of the SIUE Engineering Building, Shimkus talked about the relevance of both programs.
"I am pleased that these two projects were successful in our federal appropriations process," Shimkus said. "The (NCERC) is important to our corn farmers, as it continues to develop better processes for processing ethanol. It is also important for our nation to continue domestic, renewable energy.
"The (SIAM) Center helps make our domestic manufacturers optimize their current practices, test new technology and maintain good-paying manufacturing jobs. I appreciate all that SIUE brings to the region and our nation."
The funding to the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center (NCERC) will allow it to continue offering workforce training opportunities in biofuels production. NCERC, located in SIUE's University Park, partners with University departments to provide internship opportunities to students and has an analytical lab, fermentation lab and pilot-scale ethanol production process.
The Southwest Illinois Advanced Manufacturing (SIAM) Center received a $238,000 grant to continue helping companies streamline processes and save money. Its experts in the areas of manufacturing, industrial, mechanical, electrical, civil, environmental, computer engineering and computer science, are faculty and students from the School of Engineering.
"Both of these programs are vital to the region's economy," said SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift. "It doesn't matter where you look. Everyone is trying to do more with less and we are all looking for ways to go green, reduce reliance on non-renewable resources and embrace technology. This funding is an investment in our future and we thank Rep. Shimkus for his continued support of this important work."
At the end of 2008, there were 175 ethanol production plants in 25 states across the country, with more than $66 million in revenue generated by the biofuels industry, according to the Renewable Fuels Association. Additionally, there are more than 500,000 people employed in the biofuels industry in the U.S., with 28,000 new jobs created in this area in 2008. Since Jan. 2007, NCERC has trained more than 400 people for employment within the ethanol and biofuels industry.
SIAM's annual regional economic impact exceeds $3 million in nearly 500 jobs retained and created, cost savings to companies, productivity improvements and quality enhancements. The center's return-on-investment ratio exceeds $18 for every $1 spent on SIAM projects. The center has helped more than 90 companies on projects in Illinois, Missouri, California, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Arkansas.
"Congressman Shimkus has been a tireless advocate for Southern Illinois University," said SIU President Glenn Poshard. "In no small measure to Mr. Shimkus' continued efforts, SIUE has made meaningful gains in its ability to transfer technology and research in biofuels and manufacturing processes to the region's employers."
Clients from both centers were available to talk about their experiences with NCERC and SIAM.
Hydrodynamic Technologies Inc. of Collinsville, IL and the Southwest Illinois Advanced Manufacturing Center (SIAM) at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville are preparing locally to globally revolutionize the roughly $50 million bar feeding industry, a business segment related to metalworking and production machining.
For the last five years, Ray Varady, a graduate of SIU Carbondale with a bachelor of science in manufacturing engineering and owner of Hydrodynamic Technologies, has worked with SIAM Center Director Kevin Hubbard, SIUE associate professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, on research and development of a patented fluid that will allow companies to retrofit expensive machinery.
Such a move would save money, create jobs and improve efficiencies and productivity for industry leaders ranging from aerospace to electrical, plumbing, automotive and medical.
Varady said for machines that currently use hydraulic oil in a bar feeder for production-turning operations in a lathe, his invention will support the use of electromagnets to change the viscosity of magnetic rheological fluid. The fluid will support the bar stock at the required RPM, whatever the size, without the need to retool the bar feeder, reducing changeover time and the expense of additional guide channels.
"This will allow the machinery to be used to cut the materials to size to fit specification and use," Varady said. "Whether you want 10,000 pieces of a faucet part or valve, or 100,000, it will run seamlessly.
"And, it doesn't matter if you are changing your bar stock diameters from 3/8 of an inch to 2 inches. You won't have to change out parts. You can just adjust the viscosity of the fluid using the electromagnets."
The technology was introduced recently at the 2010 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago. Varady said his company is negotiating a licensing agreement.
"What makes SIAM unique is that it brings together every element necessary to make manufacturing work-- the intellectual resources, the physical capacity to fabricate and test new technologies, and the academic programs necessary to enhance our technical workforce," Hubbard said.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Area is the nation's largest producer of military aircraft, and hosts the greatest concentration of automotive production outside Michigan. Hundreds of companies in Southwestern and Central Illinois serve as suppliers to the equipment and defense industry super-cluster.
The region also lies at the center of the emerging bio-belt. Enterprises in the bio-processing industry operate at the intersection of the region's two largest economic engines, manufacturing and agriculture.
The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) has funded the creation of the SIAM Center at SIUE. SIAM works with both established and start-up enterprises. The Center assists these technical enterprises in activities including:
The EDA provides matching funds for SIAM projects, allowing companies like Varady's to leverage their research and development investments. SIAM has achieved a return-on-investment ratio of more than 10, Hubbard said. For each dollar spent on SIAM projects, more than $10 is returned to the regional economy in the form of created and retained jobs, improved productivity and quality, and reduced production costs.
"The creation of the EDA-funded SIAM Center represents a total investment of more than $690,000 annually in the regional economy," he said.