Discovery Magazine

US - Taiwan Planning Meeting: Innovations in Advanced Manufacturing

This award supports a planning visit to the National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan, by Prof. Pierre Larochelle of Florida Institute of Technology. The purpose of the trip is to develop a collaborative research project on a new generation of automated assembly and manufacturing technologies by applying Ball's screw theory to the automation of machine movement in multiple dimensions or degrees of freedom. This planning visit will be the basis for preparing a full-scale collaborative-research proposal aimed to develop innovative and more efficient manufacturing and automated assembly techniques that can make positive economic contributions in both countries. Such techniques can make the U.S. more competitive in the global market. Participation in this project will also prepare U.S. engineering students to be engaged globally in automated assembly manufacturing industries.

To compensate for the high cost of manufacturing labor in the US the domestic automated manufacturing industry must continually increase quality and productivity per unit labor. Recently, President Obama stated that this issue is of paramount national importance, “We need an economy that’s based not on what we consume and borrow from other nations, but what we make and sell around the world”. To advance the nation’s capability to compete globally in the automated assembly and automated manufacturing industries, new transformative technologies and capabilities must continually be developed. Otherwise, the relatively high cost of labor in the U.S. will drive domestic business to outsource automated assembly and automated manufacturing operations overseas. To produce just such a transformative technology, a planning visit is proposed that will bring together two leading researchers from the U.S. and Taiwan to focus their efforts on this challenge to our nation’s manufacturing economy.

Planning Visit Outline: Prof. Larochelle of Florida Tech will travel to Taiwan to meet with Prof. Chintien Huang of National Cheng Kung University for a three-week-long focused planning meeting.

Planning Visit Purpose: To synergistically combine the expertise of Prof. Larochelle and Prof. Huang to produce a framework for a collaborative research program that has the potential to yield transformative change in automated assembly and automated manufacturing.

The intellectual merit of this research is in synergistically bringing together the expertise of Profs. Larochelle and Huang to address the continual challenge to our nation’s manufacturing economy; and to create new technologies that enable our automated manufacturing enterprise to be cost-competitive around the globe. Prof. Larochelle has expertise in the synthesis and analysis of spatial and spherical kinematic chains and in creating computer-aided design tools for these three-dimensional mechanical systems; and Prof. Huang’s expertise is in computational kinematics, line geometry & screw theory, and the synthesis and analysis of spatial mechanisms. Bringing these two complementary skill sets together holds great promise for producing a transformative research agenda. The broader impacts of this research result from initiating the international collaboration between Profs. Larochelle and Huang. It is envisioned that this planning visit and the resulting research agenda will be the beginning of a fruitful collaboration that will endure for several years. This collaboration will make significant contributions to the state of the art in automated assembly and automated manufacturing systems, thereby directly benefiting our nation’s manufacturing industry.