University of Northern Iowa



New Partnership Announced

Posted on Thursday, April 28th, 2022

A new partnership among the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), Youngstown State University (YSU) and the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) will leverage $10 million in first-year federal funding to increase the number of small-to-midsize enterprises using advanced technologies, bolster critical areas of the Department of Defense manufacturing supply chain and create jobs.

On Tuesday, April 19, project leads from each partner organization met to review goals and launch project initiatives. Following the meeting, a media event welcomed the Cedar Valley community to learn more, meet the leads and tour the TechWorks Campus, where the UNI Metal Casting Center and UNI Foundry 4.0 Center are housed.


UNI press conference


The partnership between UNI, YSU and NCDMM will provide hundreds of businesses each year with support to remove barriers to adopting Industry 4.0 technologies, enabling a faster output of quality parts while expanding and strengthening the defense supply chain. Those technologies include robotics, automatization, sensors, big data and 3D printing, all technologies of which the project partners are capable of developing and transferring.


“In the next five years, our nation’s manufacturing economy is positioned to achieve levels of efficiency and productivity not yet realized with current technologies,” said Jerry Thiel, Director of the UNI Foundry 4.0 Center, who is pictured speaking to project leads on Tuesday morning. “The integration of robotics, automation, sensors, and other Industry 4.0 technologies allowed through this partnership will position our nation for sustained global leadership and support the defense supply chain. Bringing Industry 4.0 technologies to the metal casting industry while training the future workforce will be critical in strengthening the country’s manufacturing base and removing supply chain issues with critical cast components.”


UNI Advance Iowa team photo


UNI’s research and training on 3D sand-based printing with multiple industry partners has led to growth in the number of manufacturers using these technologies, causing a decline in production costs and enhanced quality. UNI also recently acquired an automated investment casting production system, which can also be used to help entrepreneurs learn about the integration of Industry 4.0 technology on their production floors as this innovation takes hold in industry.

For more information on UNI’s work in Industry 4.0 technologies, visit


Photo of a group meeting