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UT Arlington receives Walmart, Walmart Foundation innovation grant

UT Arlington has received a $229,214 grant from the Walmart Foundation to build a robotic small motors assembly and testing system that would cut the manufacturing costs of goods, allowing those goods to be produced in the United States that were formerly built overseas.

The Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Grant was part of an announcement of $4 million in awards to seven research and development institutions at the 2014 U.S. Manufacturing Summit in Denver made possible through the collaboration between Walmart, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Walmart Foundation. The grants fund creation of new processes, ideas and jobs that will foster America's growing manufacturing footprint.

Aditya Das, senior research scientist at The University of Texas at Arlington Research Institute, will lead the project here.

UT Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari said the Innovation Fund's support of the UT Arlington Research Institute positions the University as a strong partner for industry with the know-how to propel manufacturing innovation.

"Walmart, the Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors clearly recognize that preeminent research universities are the place where engineering solutions can best be devised to increase manufacturing efficiency and lower costs," Karbhari said. "This significant collaboration will bridge the gap between the capabilities of robotic automation and the cost-prohibitive nature of most automation processes."

Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck endorsed UT Arlington's full proposal for the grant.

"The City of Arlington collaborates with The University of Texas at Arlington on a wide range of programs, and we're looking forward to expanding the reach and scope of those programs to help our region continue to be a beneficial environment for industry," Cluck said. "Arlington is a city that offers a particularly positive climate for business, and one of our largest areas of focus is manufacturing. It is our commitment to establishing and furthering these types of partnerships that makes Arlington one of the best places to do business."

Das said the institute has been conducting pioneering research in automated product miniaturization and system integration for more than a decade.

"We can leverage all the tools and knowledge we've built up during that time and put it to use on this project," said Das, who also is a special member of the graduate faculty in electrical engineering. "Walmart is committed to bringing manufacturing to America. We do our part to develop U.S. manufacturing by building a machine that helps build these motors."

He said the small motors can be found in toys, small appliances, electric shavers, hair dryers, electronic devices and a bevy of other consumer goods.

"Researchers at many of America's best universities are hard at work on tough manufacturing challenges," said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation. "We are excited to support the development of innovative solutions, which we hope will unlock new opportunity for manufacturing in this country."

Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart vice president of U.S. sourcing and manufacturing, said this year's grant recipients represent the ingenuity and inventive thinking that could ultimately unlock the full potential of manufacturing in the United States.

"We're thrilled the Walmart Foundation is supporting the efforts of UT Arlington to transform the processes that will ultimately drive resurgence in American manufacturing," Marsiglio said.

The Fund, which focuses on the development of domestic manufacturing with a specific goal of advancing the production or assembly of consumer products in the U.S., will provide a total of $10 million in grants over the next five years.

This year's grant recipients were selected for their ability to address two key areas that currently present barriers to increased domestic manufacturing:

  • Reducing the cost of textiles manufacturing, including home textiles and apparel, in the U.S. by addressing obstacles throughout production.
  • Improving common manufacturing processes with broad application to many types of consumer products.

"We are so pleased that our organization has pursued this partnership with Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to spur job creation in America's cities," said U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran. "Manufacturing is coming back to this country, and the nation's mayors want to support that wherever possible."

The Innovation Fund is another milestone in Walmart's broader commitment to help revitalize U.S.-based manufacturing. In January 2013, Walmart announced the retailer would buy an additional $250 billion in products supporting American manufacturing and American jobs by 2023.

Together, these commitments represent a significant investment that will help accelerate the pace of U.S. manufacturing growth. By making production in the U.S. more cost effective and efficient, the global retailer believes it can bring its customers an increasing number of American-made products and ultimately create more jobs in communities across the country.


Contact: Herb Booth
University of Texas at Arlington

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