NIU Rockford Adds New Partnership Towards New Frontier in Digital Manufacturing


“I see this as the next coming of the industrial revolution and it’s starting right here in Rockford.”

An impactful statement from Congresswoman Cheri Bustos as she joins Senator Dick Durbin in congratulating Northern Illinois University on their partnership with Chicago’s Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII).  It’s one of only a few institutes that focus on manufacturing research.

“They’ll be taught by professors from the college of engineering and engineering technology. And they’ll be mentored by these professors as well as industry experts here in the region,” says NIU President Doug Baker. 

Digital manufacturing uses high speed computers to make things virtually on-demand, giving manufacturer’s a much more efficient process from start to finish.

The system works by “taking the data directly from design through that entire manufacturing assembly process, and even the data coming off the products after the products are delivered to the field,” says Dean Bartles of DMDII.

“A small manufacturer can partner with a digital manufacturing lab for a very, very nominal fee, and tap into that know-how that we will be getting from all over the country,” adds Bustos.

The partnership will provide NIU students with an opportunity to be at the forefront of this industry’s future.

“They’re engaged in training the next generation of workers.  But we want to make sure through this digital lab that Northern Illinois is on the front lines of this competition,” says Durbin.  He adds that these new developments will gain the attention of companies from all over the nation and the world.

“If we establish that reputation in Rockford, in Chicago, in our state, there will be more and more companies wanting to be a part of it.”

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