OIT Times: Tennessee Focuses on Metal Casting and Aluminum
September 24, 2001
Manufacturers supplying the auto industry have a strong presence in Tennessee, so the State's IOF efforts are currently targeting two such industriesetal casting and aluminum.
"These industries have a lot in commonhey serve many of the same customers and share many similar concerns, and some technologies," said Brian Hensley for the Energy Division Tennessee Dept. of Economic and Community Development.
The program held a roadmap workshop that drew several dozen industry representatives from aluminum and metal casting companies, auto manufacturers and university researchers. Participants worked together in technology assessment breakout sessions and toured Oak Ridge National Lab. The workshop produced an R&D priority list that was disseminated to stakeholders.
Hensley said that the Tennessee effort is organized around three industrial centers associated with the Univ. of Memphis, Tennessee Technological Univ., and the Univ. of Tennessee representing the West, Middle and East parts of the state, respectively.
"Working with several universities allows us to tap into existing relationships and minimize the need for travel, which can be an impediment to participation," said Hensley. "We also benefit from a much broader scope of expertise and research contacts working with the guidance of the Oak Ridge National Lab."
Peer-to-peer contact is also key to their efforts, said Hensley. "Industry is most interested in hearing about technology from practicing engineers rather than government administrators," he explained, and bringing a local metals industry consultant into the picture has greatly improved outreach.
Hensley noted that the program might soon set its sights on the state's forest products industry. "Tennessee has led the nation in hardwood flooring production for several years," he said.