Manufacturing has been the foundation of the American economy and a powerful driver of innovation and entrepreneurship since the days of the Industrial Revolution. Today, manufacturing has moved far beyond its roots to encompass a diverse array of technologies and processes for making everything from lightweight vehicles to engineered tissue. WPI, which has been contributing new ideas, new technologies, and new talent to drive the evolution of manufacturing since its founding in 1865, is today playing a pivotal role in a new advanced manufacturing revolution.

A Legacy of Manufacturing Innovation

WPI was established more than 150 years ago to generate the human and intellectual capital required to help transform the United States into a manufacturing powerhouse. True to our founding mission—to prepare students to put theory into impactful practice—our approach to manufacturing education and research has always had a distinct practical focus. Our graduates have founded and led manufacturing businesses of all kinds, while innovations from our labs have not only helped make existing industries more competitive, but have helped create and build whole new industries.

Fast forward to today, and the Institute is continuing to help drive the evolution of manufacturing at the same time that the notion of just what manufacturing is—and can be—is undergoing a seismic shift, answering questions such as these:

  • How can new materials and manufacturing processes make our vehicles more reliable and fuel efficient and our transportation systems more sustainable?
  • How can new biomanufacturing techniques help push back the frontiers of medicine and healthcare?
  • What new photonics technologies open the door to major advances in information technology?
  • Can we find a way to prepare a new kind of manufacturing workforce with the specialized skills and knowledge required by tomorrow’s advance manufacturing industries? 

Manufacturing Engineering Education

WPI’s Manufacturing Engineering undergraduate and graduate programs focus on producing engineering designs that bring ideas into practical, cost-effective use in a production process that is less expensive, safer, and healthier for the planet.

Manufacturing USA

The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, now known as Manufacturing USA, “connects people, ideas, and technology to solve industry-relevant advanced manufacturing challenges. Its goals are to enhance industrial competitiveness, increase economic growth, and strengthen U.S. national security.”

WPI has earned a coveted position as a member of eight of the 14 Manufacturing USA institutes, with centers that cut across multiple disciplines.

  1. LIFT – Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow. The participating member is Metal Processing Institute: WPI explores lightweight and modern metals manufacturing. Contact: Diran Apelian 
  2. AIM Photonics – Advanced Integrated Manufacturing in Photonics. In partnership with Quinsigamond Community College, WPI is advancing economic development in training and testbed locations.
  3. CESMI – Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation. Participating member is the Center for Advanced Research in Drying: WPI is innovating in clean energy and smart manufacturing. Contact Jamal Yagoobi
  4. RAPID – Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment. Participating member is the Center for Advanced Research in Drying​: WPI advances modular process intensification. Contact Jamal Yagoobi
  5. NIIMBL – The National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing and Biopharmaceuticals. Participating members are the Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center and Biomedical Engineering: WPI is innovating in biopharma manufacturing. Contact: Kamal Rashid and Kris Billiar
  6. ARMI – Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute. Participating member is Biomedical Engineering: WPI is innovating in regenerative manufacturing. Contact: Kris Billiar and Marsha Rolle
  7. REMADE – Reducing Embodied-energy and Decreasing Emissions. Participating member is the Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling: WPI looks at sustainable manufacturing. Contact: Brajendra Mishra
  8. ARM – Advanced Robotics Manufacturing. Participating member is Robotics Engineering: WPI is designing a new way to deploy robotics manufacturing. Contact: Michael Gennert

Lighter Metals, Greener Vehicles

Diana Lados, associate professor of mechanical engineering at WPI and founding director of the Integrative Materials Design Center, is developing a fundamental understanding of the properties of lightweight metals and tools for manufacturing new alloys with desired qualities, research aimed at increasing the use of these metals in vehicles, which will cut both energy usage and carbon emissions.

Lighter Metals, Greener Vehicles

Latest News

Dean Kamen, head of the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) to Deliver Keynote

WPI hosts a symposium that focuses on emerging biomanufacturing technologies and the challenges of making novel cell and regenerative tissue therapies for patients. 

Massachusetts Selected to Partner in Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Innovation

“WPI was founded more than 150 years ago to support education and workforce development during the industrial revolution, and we look forward to driving innovation, career development, and other techniques to support 21st century biopharmaceutical manufacturing initiatives,” said WPI President Laurie Leshin.

WPI Students Teach Job Skills to Displaced Workers

WPI students are helping long-term displaced workers develop job skills in CNC manufacturing through a partnership between WPI's Manufacturing Labs and the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP).

WPI Selected as a Manufacturing Innovation Center

"The MassDevelopment Grant program recognizes our past contributions and strength in manufacturing and helps us reaffirm and facilitate our commitment to use our expertise for the support and development of the manufacturing sector in Massachusetts," said Bogdan M. Vernescu, Vice Provost for Research.

A History Steeped in Manufacturing

Manufacturing has been part of WPI’s core since our founding. Early students put theory into practice in the Washburn Shops—a working manufacturing plant. Now the oldest building in the United States dedicated to engineering education, the Shops houses research and education programs and labs dedicated to advancing modern manufacturing, including the renowned Metal Processing Institute. Just as the scope of what constitutes manufacturing has expanded, so too has the range of facilities and programs driving advanced manufacturing at WPI.

Keeping Manufacturing Competitive

With more than 12 million jobs at stake and 11.8% of our GDP comprised by manufacturing (source: NIST), manufacturers need to understand key industry challenges and develop sustainable solutions to stay competitive. For example, energy and water wasted by drying moist, porous materials is a concern for a wide range of industries. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), WPI launched the Center for Advanced Research in Drying (CARD) to address this issue and develop new technologies that will help companies save energy and produce better products.

Bringing Biomanufacturing Education and Training into the Fold

Biomanufacturing harnesses the extraordinary advances of biotechnology and regenerative medicine to produce new kinds of therapies. WPI, a leader in research and education in this emerging field, offers symposia that brings together industry and academia to review new technologies, process developments, and research findings–and to share experiences, insights, and operational challenges the field is facing. All of this is done through the Biomanufacturing Education and Training Center at WPI.

Nurturing Young Innovators Who are Driving Innovation

Faculty researchers work alongside the next generation of great minds to find ways to propel manufacturing. According to NIST, manufacturing accounts for 68% of U.S. research and development. Aaron Birt, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at WPI, has excelled at identifying innovative technologies and integrating them into existing processes to increase efficiency or effectiveness. Though he is a materials scientist by training, his insights are not limited to that field. In addition to his PhD thesis, he has started research into a technology that could completely alter the way lithium ion battery cathodes are manufactured.

Media Inquiries

For information about WPI and its involvement in any of the Manufacturing USA initiatives, contact Andy Baron, Senior Manager of Trade Communications for University Marketing and Communications.