America Makes Announces Innovation Sprint Smart Structure Awardee

September 28, 2016 | Categories: America Makes News

Team from Virginia Tech Awarded with a Silver-level Membership in the Institute Worth $15k at Its TRX Event in Youngstown

Youngstown, Ohio — September 28, 2016. America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM), is pleased to announce Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) and its Design Research Education of Additive Manufacturing Systems (The DREAMS lab) as the winner of the Institute’s first Innovation Sprint Challenge on “smart structures” using additive manufacturing (AM) methods. The winning Virginia Tech team is comprised of Joseph Kubalak; Logan Sturm; Rich Dumene; Callie Zawaski; Donald Aduba, Jr., Ph.D.; and Christopher Williams, Ph.D. The award announcement was made today during the Institute’s annual Fall Program Review and Member Meeting (PRMM) in Youngstown.

The first in the series of America Makes Innovation Sprints focused on “smart structures” using AM methods, which represents a long-standing promise of AM that remains unfulfilled. A smart structure is any part with an integrated device, such as (but not limited to) embedded sensors or actuators that allow for data acquisition and/or smart manipulation.

America Makes awarded a Silver-level membership in the Institute, worth $15K, to the Virginia Tech team for its Innovation Sprint submission titled, “Smart Wing Project,” in which mechatronic devices intended for use in wings for remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA) were successfully AM fabricated in a single process without post-process assembly. The long-term impact of the project aligns well with the U.S. Department of Defense’s vision to one day deploy AM systems into the field to enable in-field fabrication of replacement, spare, and innovative products.

“On behalf of everyone at America Makes, we extend our congratulations to the Virginia Tech team for their winning smart structures submission,” said John Wilczynski, Deputy Director of Technology Development at America Makes. “Smart structures hold great significance to America Makes and to the AM community at large because each implementation moves us one step closer to realizing multi-material and multi-process integration. This new capability will also help us realize true DFAM, that is design for additive manufacturing, where we will be able to stop designing with conventional processes in mind and start fully realizing AM capabilities, which will have the potential to impact a wide variety of industries from the consumer space to automotive to healthcare and beyond.”

The goal of the America Makes Innovations Sprints is to further research and development (R&D) in key areas in support of the Institute’s Technology Roadmap and the advancement of the AM industry while reaching a broader audience of innovators. The Institute partnered with InnoCentive Inc., the pioneer in crowdsourced innovation and Challenge Driven Innovation™, to launch the pilot series of three challenges. Unlike the Institute’s formal Project Calls, which are deeper in scale and effort and must adhere to a wider set of criteria, the Innovation Sprints target a very specific technology need within the Roadmap and require compliance with a limited set of criteria.

The America Makes Innovation Sprints are open to both members and non-members. Because America Makes is committed to fostering a balanced member community of diverse organizations, the Institute is offering Silver-level membership, worth $15K, to America Makes as the award of each Innovation Sprint. Membership in America Makes provides significant benefits, including direct contact with the AM and 3DP industry’s thought leaders and innovators and access to valuable intellectual property, technical presentations, project calls, and much more.

Stay tuned for more information on the next America Makes Innovation Sprint. To participate in the Innovation Sprints, registration with InnoCentive through its Website is required. Innovation Sprint participants must also comply with the Terms and Conditions of the challenge, including being eligible for, and accept, membership in America Makes.


About America Makes

America Makes is the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. As the national accelerator for additive manufacturing (AM), America Makes is the nation’s leading and collaborative partner in AM and 3DP technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation. Structured as a public-private partnership with member organizations from industry, academia, government, non-government agencies, and workforce and economic development resources, we are working together to innovate and accelerate AM to increase our nation’s global manufacturing competitiveness. Based in Youngstown, Ohio, America Makes is the first Institute within the Manufacturing USA (formerly the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation) infrastructure and is driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM). For more information about America Makes, visit


The NCDMM delivers optimized manufacturing solutions that enhance the quality, affordability, maintainability, and rapid deployment of existing and yet-to-be developed defense systems. This is accomplished through collaboration with government, industry, and academic organizations to promote the implementation of best practices to key stakeholders through the development and delivery of disciplined training, advanced technologies, and methodologies. For additional information, visit the NCDMM at

About InnoCentive

InnoCentive crowdsources innovation solutions from the world’s smartest people, who compete to provide ideas and solutions to important business, social, policy and scientific challenges. Our global network of millions of problem solvers, proven challenge methodology, and cloud-based innovation management platform, help our clients transform their economics of innovation through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs. For over a decade, organizations, such as Astra Zeneca, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cleveland Clinic, Eli Lilly & Company, NASA, Procter & Gamble, Thomson Reuters, and several government agencies in the U.S. and Europe, have partnered with InnoCentive. For more information, visit

About Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Founded in 1872, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is a public land-grant university serving the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world community. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers more than 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $496 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia. The university generated $496 million for research programs in fiscal year 2013, ranking 40th in the nation, according to the National Science Foundation. For more information about Virginia Tech, visit