Illinois is boasting a $70 million boost from the U. S. Department of Defense, confirming the state has won a competition against other regions to host a Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute at the Chicago-based UI Labs. Gov. Pat Quinn and U. S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) discussed it during a conference call with reporters Sunday.
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“We are elated,” said Durbin. “This is an historic day. Illinois’ success in winning this grant from the federal government is going to put us in the forefront nationally and internationally in leading the way in manufacturing in the 21st Century.” It’s a public-private partnership involving much of the U. of I. system, including the Blue Waters Super Computer. On the private side, the partners include such Illinois-based companies as Boeing, Caterpillar, and Deere and Co. Quinn recounts a recent discussion with Deere’s chef executive: “He told me that there’s more information technology on a John Deere combine today than there is on the space shuttle,” Quinn said, “so these machines are 21st Century machines, and we’ve got to use 21st Century technology to design them, and that's what the manufacturing lab is all about.”