Knoxville celebrates award of $250M composites research hub

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – President Barack Obama’s proposal to emulate Tennessee’s free college tuition program on a national scale may have failed to impress Republicans attending his Knoxville speech on Friday. But a separate announcement awarding a $250 million manufacturing innovation hub was a cause for celebration.

The Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Advanced Composites will be made up of 122 companies, nonprofits and research institutions anchored by the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. The hub is the fifth of eight to be awarded in federal competitions.

The innovation center will conduct research on advanced composites like carbon fiber that are stronger and lighter than metals. Goals include developing ways to produce them more cheaply and quickly.

Other members of the consortium include Boeing, Volkswagen, Ford, Vanderbilt University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.