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Learning and Innovation Go Together at University of Michigan Precast Program Masters Program

When choosing programs to support with its curriculum development grants, the trustees of the PCI Foundation take seriously the old adage that learning and innovation go hand in hand. The precast industry has tackled innovation of its products, production facilities and design approach in part by a targeted and strong outreach program to schools with reputations for innovation and originality in design. One example of this is the masters of science in digital technologies program at the University of Michigan School of Architecture.

During the final portion of the program, students use precast concrete as to create their final project.

At the University of Michigan program the local partner, Kerkstra Precast, took advantage of the school’s ability to leverage its amazing FABLab. This digital laboratory, housed in the Taubmann College uses robotic automation to perform both subtractive and additive manufacturing processes. It houses six industrial robots, organized into three cooperative work cells. Students can use the equipment to create a wide range of material scales. These work cells can be reconfigured rapidly to use a diverse range of processes, from sensor guided welding to automated bending, assembly, abrasive waterjet cutting, and composite fiber placement.

In addition, the FABLab houses a wide range of large-scale CNC machines, including