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UNR Rethinks Advanced Manufacturing Research (Subscriber Content)

By John Seelmeyer
The University of Nevada, Reno’s Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center celebrates Earth Day by displaying a 7-foot-tall, 8-foot-wide Earth Day Nevada “N” made with 1,580 recycled water bottles and lit with energy-efficient LED blue lights. Photo courtesy of Nick Crowl, University of Nevada, Reno.

Leaders of the University of Nevada, Reno, are trying to find ways to keep an advanced-manufacturing research initiative alive even though the State Legislature didn’t approve the funds that were expected to be its cornerstone.

The Advanced Manufacturing Research Initiative was developed by UNR over the past couple of years in conjunction with economic-development agencies and manufacturing companies in Nevada.

Its goal: Support the rapid growth of the manufacturing sector in northern Nevada through research that could be put to use quickly.

To deliver those results, the university expected to recruit 40 new faculty members in engineering, business, science and other disciplines. A lot of lab facilities already are available.

Advanced manufacturing — the use of technology to improve products and processes — is one of the cornerstone industries identified by the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada. Last year, manufacturing jobs of all types accounted for about a third of the new employment that EDAWN brought to the region.

Gov. Steve Sisolak had recommended that the Legislature approve $20.9 million in funding over the next two years for the UNR Advanced Manufacturing Research Initiative along with a health-research initiative at UNLV.

But the request didn’t survive lawmakers, who instead decided to focus on job-training programs at community colleges and Nevada State College.
Now UNR officials are re-thinking their plans and looking for other ways of funding the advanced manufacturing research.

“This is still very important to the university, as well as many of the economic development organizations in the region,” said Kerri Garcia, a spokesperson for UNR.

The university has been advertising for faculty researchers for the advanced manufacturing initiative, but it’s emphasized to applicants that the positions depend on available funding.

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