Obama launches Chicago Digital Lab on Goose Island

SHARE Obama launches Chicago Digital Lab on Goose Island

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama officially announced Tuesday afternoon a $70 million federal grant for a Chicago national Digital Lab on Goose Island–adding, a joking aside “where there is also a superior beer.” Maybe I’m explaining too much, but that’s a reference to a beer brand that originated on the North Side.

Obama’s announcement was anticlimactic since the confirmation that Chicago would win the facility came Saturday. Gov. Pat Quinn, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill., University of Illinois officials, several members of the Illinois congressional delegation–all Democrats–were in the White House East Room for the announcement, where a metals manufacturing hub for the Detroit area was also made official.

In talking about the Chicago Digital Lab–to be run by UI Labs, a non-profit, Obama said, “keep in mind, there’s a consortium of more than 40 companies, 23 universities — labs like Northwestern and University of Illinois — nearly 200 small businesses, a number of other states are participating in these — in this consortium. It’s funded by a $70 million award led by the Defense Department, but the state and its businesses raised 250 million (dollars) in private funding commitments to help win this bid and make it happen.

“So this digital manufacturing and design innovation is going to be headquartered not far from downtown Chicago on Goose Island, where there is also a very superior beer in case you — I’m just —- I’m just letting you know.

“A – — little hometown plug there. Feel free to use that, Goose Island.

“And it’s going to focus on using digital technology and data management to help manufacturers turn their ideas into real-world products faster and cheaper than before. And it will include training to help more Americans earn the skills to do these digital manufacturing jobs.

“And this is critical. The country that gets new products to market faster and at less cost, they’ll win the race for the good jobs of tomorrow. And if you look at what’s happening in manufacturing, a lot of it is much more specific, right? Companies want to keep their inventories low. They want to respond to consumer demand faster. And what that means is, is that manufacturers who can adapt, retool, get something out, change for a particular spec of a particular customer, they’re going to win the competition every time.

“And we want that country that is specialized in this to be us, the United States of America. We want suppliers to be able to collaborate with customers in real time, test their parts digitally, cut down on the time and money that they spend producing expensive prototypes. We want our manufacturers to be able to custom-design products tailored to each individual consumer. We want our troops to be able to download digital blueprints they can use to 3-D print new parts and repair equipment right there in the field.

“…And we also know these manufacturing hubs have the potential to fundamentally change the way we build things in America. So 10 years from now, 20 years from now, imagine our workers manufacturing materials that used to be science fiction, a sheet of metal that’s thinner than paper but is strong as steel, or our — our workers begin able to design a product using these materials entirely on a computer, they bring it to market less money, hire folks to build it right here, sell it all over the world. That’s what the next generation of American manufacturing could look like,” he said.

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