Agency: 
NASA
Region: 
Midwest
State: 
Ohio

NASA Glenn Research Center

NASA’s Glenn Research Center partnered with the Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network (MAGNET), as well as with the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County in Ohio, to provide pro bono assistance from NASA subject matter experts (SMEs) to help eight companies solve technical challenges with new or current products. Companies represented a wide range of industry sectors—from biotechnology to construction, from sensors to vinyl record production. MAGNET played a major role in facilitating companies’ participation and publicizing the program, while the two local government entities pledged $450,000 in low-interest loans to offset companies’ costs of participating.

Having identified advanced manufacturing capabilities as key to U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace, the Obama Administration established a White House Council on “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” (SC2) Initiative within the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The SC2 Initiative sought to partner federal agencies with struggling cities to promote bottom-up economic transformation. The Ohio cities of Cleveland and Youngstown were collectively selected as one of six distressed “rust belt” urban centers for the SC2 Initiative.

NASA established an Adopt-a-City initiative in Cleveland to improve the viability of suppliers in the city and surrounding county. A concerted effort was made to match companies’ technical challenges with the technical competencies and capabilities available at NASA Glenn. As a result, NASA engineers were able to help the companies solve key challenges, including identifying a NASA polymer material and epoxy for an innovative dental implant system that is expected to reduce the implant’s cost from $5,000 to $500 (pending FDA approval); modernizing vintage vinyl record presses to allow for higher production rates, reducing costs and increasing efficiency; and improving a sensor to provide real-time quality control during concrete curing, potentially revolutionizing the construction of buildings worldwide and possibly expanding into the monitoring of earthen dams and levees, to name just a few examples.

The economic benefits of this collaboration are already being reaped—15 jobs created, 2 jobs saved, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, investments, and cost savings for the companies—and the long-term benefits for this distressed “rust belt” region are expected to contribute to the benefits realized from multiple programs in the area with similar goals. This successful program is continuing into a second year while expanding to bring economic benefits to a wider region.

Award Year: 
Region: 
Midwest