High tech manufacturing institute launches in East Tennessee

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- East Tennessee is another step closer to becoming a leader in high tech manufacturing and it could change the way people travel.

The Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation launched. It's mission is to find a way to make materials efficiently and cheaply that they can be used for every day products, like cars.

"We find them in our golf clubs and high end sport equipment that we have but if we can make advanced composites a lot lower cost, we can actually get them introduced into all kinds of other products. Perhaps most importantly in our vehicles," said David Danielson, assistant secretary for energy efficiency & renewable energy for the U.S. Department of Energy.

It would make cars lighter and more fuel efficient, Danielson added.

The new project has roots in East Tennessee. The University of Tennessee - Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are the hub for producing manufacturing materials for the next generation.

"We are in the process of revamping our curriculum in certain departments to be very responsive, particularly with respect to automotive manufacturing," said Taylor Eighmy, UT vice chancellor for research and engagement.

UT officials hope this puts the university on the map as a top 25 public research university.

President Obama announced the $295 million project during his East Tennessee visit.

Representatives from the Department of Energy hope in the next five to ten years they can lower the cost of advanced composites, the time it takes to make a part, and make them more recyclable.