CDME joins Ohio’s effort to boost defense manufacturing

Posted: September 25, 2020

The United States Department of Defense recently approved a $5 million grant to help Ohio improve defense manufacturing processes in the state and train workers for next-generation jobs.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted issued the statement Sept. 17. The grant follows an announcement in August designating Ohio as a Defense Manufacturing Community. The program is designed to support long-term community investments that strengthen national security innovation and expand defense manufacturing capabilities.

“Ohio is positioned to be the premier state for defense manufacturing, and this grant will help our companies and workers achieve that,” Gov. DeWine said. “Ohio is committed to ensuring that our military has the best equipment and resources available.”

The Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence at The Ohio State University (CDME) will receive funding through its association with the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). While the Ohio Development Services Agency led the state's effort to be designated as a Defense Manufacturing Community and to secure the grant, MEP will take the lead on project implementation.

Representatives from across the manufacturing community at Ohio State backed the designation early with a letter of support

Noted among the state's resources to anchor the Ohio Defense Manufacturing Community and serve small- and mid-sized defense manufacturers was the university’s Ohio Manufacturing Institute (OMI), a manufacturing public policy and advocacy center at Ohio State. OMI plans to support the new community through ongoing research and surveys that will inform the effort from a macro scale.

Also at Ohio State, the Institute for Materials Research (IMR) partners with CDME to advance Ohio State’s presence and leadership in manufacturing research, development and deployment, identifying and leading major block-funding efforts, and enabling the expansion of manufacturing-relevant national and global partnerships.

“One of the great features of CDME being part of the Defense Manufacturing Community funding is that we are able to help the U.S. Department of Defense increase diversity and resilience of their supply base,” said Nate Ames, executive director of CDME. “We can do this while simultaneously preparing the future workforce to fill critical civilian jobs at military bases and research labs and through defense contractors and suppliers.”

CDME aims to enhance American manufacturing competitiveness on a global scale by focusing its efforts on both product and student development. Through industry-funded product development projects, undergraduate students gain hands-on, mentor-based experience integrating new technology into market-ready applications, providing Ohio State customers with the technology and workforce advantage necessary to compete in a global marketplace.

The center’s novel approach to technology translation is executed in its 28,000 square-foot, advanced manufacturing facility on Ohio State’s West Campus. The facility is ITAR-compliant and houses more than $12 million worth of advanced manufacturing equipment.

MEP will be assisted by numerous organizations and businesses throughout the state, including the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, JobsOhio, Dayton Development Coalition, America Makes, and Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing. Along with CDME, funding will be distributed to the following MEP partners: Ohio MEP at Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT), Ohio MEP at Columbus State Community College, Ohio MEP at FASTLANE - University of Dayton Research Institute, Ohio MEP at MAGNET, Ohio MEP at TechSolve, Ohio Aerospace Institute, and The Ohio State University South Centers.

“Ohio is building the workforce of tomorrow, and this grant will help more workers develop the tech skills that will allow Ohio companies to be on the leading edge of defense manufacturing,” Lt. Governor Husted said. “We have created a tech-friendly environment that is making Ohio a leader in the United States.”

MEP, CDME, and its partners are ready to hit the ground running. The program will start immediately, and the work will be completed over the next three years. The project timeline is as follows:

  • At least 26 advanced manufacturing projects will be performed over the next three years, including six in the first year and 10 in each of the following two years.
  • A minimum of 400 new credentials will be awarded to workers, including 75 the first year, 125 in the second, and 200 in the third.
  • With improved manufacturing processes and an improved supply chain, at least 50 new products will be manufactured, and 20 new manufacturers will join the defense supply chain.  

To access the full press release from Ohio’s Development Services Agency, please visit