LIFT, short for Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow, is a nonprofit organization established through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense, academia, and private industry. Its multifaceted mission includes training workers for high-tech manufacturing jobs, advancing defense-related technology, and preparing more companies to deal in the technology that would qualify them as defense contractors.
LIFT works with Michigan Tech by attracting partners to academia, bringing both funding and industry players into projects.
Paul Sanders, a professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Tech, has listed several interactions with LIFT. One is connecting Michigan Tech with Southfield-based Grede Foundry on a cast-iron drive train component development project.
Currently, Sanders and his team are working on mechanical property characterizations on a project LIFT brought to them involving hypersonics and additive manufacturing.
Soon to follow will be testing on custom powders LIFT is working on.
“We like the location of LIFT, we like the finances that LIFT has, and we like their emphasis on talent and training.”
Michigan Tech also finds it appealing that LIFT is so close to the kinds of students the university wants to attract to its degree programs but doesn’t always have easy access to in the Upper Peninsula.
According to Cassy Tefft de Munoz, Michigan Tech’s executive director of enrollment initiatives, the university has brought thousands of students through LIFT’s facility — some in the sixth and seventh grades — to help get them interested in STEM.
Advancing hypersonic aerospace systems with 3D printing
Just announced this Spring was a related LIFT initiative: sponsored research by undergraduate teams at Michigan Technological University to develop new materials and “road maps” for hypersonics applications. Considering the progress made by the LIFT ramjet project, it’s clear that students’ ideas can be worth paying attention to.