Nestled in the cavernous former site of Republic Windows, where over 200 workers staged a sit-down strike in 2008 to protest against the window manufacturer’s decision to shut the plant, around three dozen people are working on an initiative that could transform the future of US manufacturing.
“It’s not going to be a dark and dingy shop floor,” Jason Harris, DMDII’s director of communications, tells me as he gestures towards half a dozen machines that have been donated by the Institute’s corporate partners, including large firms like General Electric and Lockheed Martin.
With a mix of $70m (£46m) in federal funds and over $200m in private investment, the goal of DMDII is to apply research from the consortium’s university lab partners in real-world factory settings in order to create a series of software programs and private networks that will usher U.S. manufacturing into the digital age.
The question is whether this initiative, and others like it, will one day lead to the creation of the 200-plus jobs that were lost after Republic Windows drew down the shutters – or whether the factory of the future will be spotless, advanced – and empty.
Read more: BBC