This month’s Five Questions interview features ARM Institute Member Michael Groeber from the Ohio State University! As a member of our Technology Advisory Committee (TAC), Michael helps to guide and influence the ARM Institute’s strategic robotics technology focus areas. Get to know Michael and his work in the interview below!
1. Can you start by telling us about your role at the Ohio State University and the kind of work that you are focused on there?
I am an Associate Professor in Integrated Systems Engineering as well as Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. I am also the Director of Manufacturing for our Institute for Materials and Manufacturing Research (IMR) and the Faculty Director of the Artificially Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (AIMS) Laboratory. I focus on manufacturing process design, optimization, and control through the combination of process simulation, real-time sensing, and data analytics/machine learning. I mostly focus on building (semi-)autonomous robotic systems to perform these manufacturing processes.
2. How did you learn about and get involved with the ARM Institute?
In my prior position, I was a civilian research scientist at Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and I learned of the ARM Institute through my colleagues at AFRL after I transitioned to OSU. I had been doing a lot of additive manufacturing work and knew of AmericaMakes and the NNMIs and as I transitioned into robotic manufacturing, the ARM Institute made perfect sense.
3. As a member of our Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), you help to guide the ARM Institute’s technology focus areas. Can you tell us about some of the initiatives you work on through the TAC?
My personal focus areas are in structural materials processing (i.e. casting, forging, welding, etc). There is a huge need in the US, as evidenced by Department of Defense (DoD) reports on large casting and forging needs, to grow the manufacturing base in these areas. I believe robotics and novel processing system design/control is the key to make impact in these areas and I am working to help the ARM Institute be a driving factor in that space.
4. You participated in our fall Multi-Robot Interaction Workshop. Can you tell us what that process was like and some things you learned through participating in it?
It was a really exciting workshop. We discussed the vision and needs for environments where multiple robots and people are collaborating to perform much needed tasks. We brainstormed the types of applications, their needs and constraints, and the technological hurdles that are present and delaying implementation of those visions. I learned a lot about the vast number of fields that will need to come together to design these environments to be both functional and robust as well as safe and secure.
5. The Ohio State University has been involved in several ARM Institute funded projects. Can you tell us more about these projects and the value you’ve found in participating in ARM Institute projects? What makes ARM Institute projects different from others that you’ve worked on?
We have had four projects over the last couple years. They fall into two areas, as each had an initial project and then a follow-on. The first area is autonomous path and motion planning for spray-based surface processes. The second area is autonomous incremental robotic forging. Both areas are being driven by DoD, but have dual purpose applications. The ARM Institute projects have been great to work on and differ largely in their TRL level and focus on delivering more mature technologies. I really enjoy the space of taking technologic concepts to more hardened technologies in partnership with end users. The ARM projects have allowed me to work on teams with academics, small business, large industry and government labs and depots to make truly useful technology. This is very rewarding. The final demonstrations, while stressful, really force a focus on delivery of usable technology.
Bonus Question: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
I would just like to say that I think the ARM Institute is a very nice community that brings together the right people to make impactful progress in the proliferation of robotics in manufacturing, which I think is the key to the resurgence of the US manufacturing base.
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ABOUT THE ARM INSTITUTE
The ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Institute is a Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense under Agreement Number W911NF-17-3-0004 and is part of the Manufacturing USA® network. The ARM Institute leverages a unique, robust, and diverse ecosystem of 400+ consortium members and partners across industry, academia, and government to make robotics, autonomy, and artificial intelligence more accessible to U.S. manufacturers large and small, train and empower the manufacturing workforce, strengthen our economy and global competitiveness, and elevate national security and resilience. Based in Pittsburgh, PA since 2017, with a satellite office in St. Petersburg, FL, the ARM Institute is leading the way to a future where people & robots work together to respond to our nation’s greatest challenges and to produce the world’s most desired products. For more information, visit www.arminstitute.org and follow the ARM Institute on LinkedIn and X (formerly Twitter).