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A Leader in Composite Materials Venture

“These two world-class facilities will serve as the foundation for future work in this program,” said Drzal.

A Leader in Composite Materials Venture

In January 2015, President Barack Obama announced a new Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI). IACMI has received commitments of $189 million from 122 of its core members and $70 million (over five years) from the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Michigan is one of six states in IACMI. The University of Tennessee – Knoxville leads the project and is one of seven founding partners along with Michigan State University, Purdue University, University of Kentucky, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the University of Dayton Research Institute.

IACMI focuses on advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites, which combine strong fibers with tough plastics for cost-effective manufacture of materials that are lighter and stronger than steel. MSU leads the light-and-heavy-duty vehicle component of IACMI with a goal of developing manufacturing processes that lead to substantial increases in the use of advanced fiber-reinforced polymer composites to reduce vehicle weight and increase fuel efficiency.  

The advancement of composite-material research is particularly important in Michigan. These materials are crucial to the auto industry, which seeks ways to manufacture vehicles that are fuel-efficient and safe.

MSU, with more than 25 years of research excellence in the field of composite materials,  serves as the primary academic partner in the state and will work closely with key industry and research partners like the Dow Chemical Company, Ford Motor Company, TARDEC, and General Dynamics Land Systems. In addition, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. has committed $15 million in matching funds to the Michigan portion of the institute.

MSU is home to the Composite Materials and Structures Center and the Composite Vehicles Research Center, both long-recognized nationally as leaders in the field.

“These two world-class facilities will serve as the foundation for future work in this program,” said Lawrence Drzal, director of the MSU Composite Materials and Structures Center and director of the Michigan Center of Excellence for the newly formed institute. “We’re confident the IACMI will create new jobs, support the expansion of companies, and educate technicians and engineers for these industries.”

 “Michigan State University has long set the standard for research in the field of composite materials, and we are proud to be a part of this national endeavor,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “We are grateful for Dr. Drzal’s leadership, the leadership of our faculty, and the continued congressional support that gives us the opportunity to have these kinds of programs. We appreciate the invaluable contribution from the MEDC that helped to make this a reality.”

Leo Kempel, dean of the MSU College of Engineering, said it’s only natural that MSU would take a lead role in this project: “Polymer composites are one of the most transformational technologies on the horizon for reducing the weight of vehicles, whether it’s automobiles, trucks, trains or aircraft. In concert with our partners, MSU will advance knowledge in this critical area.”

For more information on making a gift to support the College of Engineering, contact Director of Development Stephen Bates at (517) 355-8339 or

Author: Alisa Healy