University of California, Davis
December 5, 2007
$4.25 MILLION GIFT FOR MACHINE TOOL RESEARCH
The Mori Seiki Company, one of the world's largest manufacturers of machine tools, will donate $4.25 million during the next five years to support UC Davis Professor Kazuo Yamazaki's research in the Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering.
The gift will support Yamazaki's work on machine tools controlled by computers. But while Yamazaki's laboratory is developing sophisticated, applied technology, his real goal is to develop human resources, he said.
"The aim of our lab is to develop top-notch engineers, not just academics, and we must work closely with industry to do that,"
Yamazaki said. Industry needs students who have experience in all areas of machine tool technology, from mechanics to software design, and who understand how these machines are used in practice, he said.
The College of Engineering "is grateful for this remarkable gift,"
said Enrique Lavernia, dean of the college. "This generous support underscores not only the excellence of the research being done in our college, but also its relevance to real-world problems. Mori Seiki and the college share a commitment to improving society through engineering research."
Adam Hansel, president of DTL Corp. of West Sacramento, Calif., a subsidiary of Mori Seiki, agreed. "As a responsible global corporation, Mori Seiki realizes that it is our duty to diligently improve not only ourselves, but the world around us by continuously supporting manufacturing activities in society," Hansel said. "This is the fundamental reason Mori Seiki chooses to sponsor forward-looking programs such as Dr. Yamazaki's research at UC Davis."
Based in Nara, Japan, Mori Seiki opened DTL Corp. in West Sacramento in 2000, and recently broke ground on a new facility for DTL in Davis. The company employs a number of UC Davis alumni, including Hansel, who graduated from UC Davis in 2000 with a master's degree in mechanical engineering.
The company began supporting Yamazaki's work in the mid-1990s and in
2002 became the principal sponsor of his laboratory with a donation of $3 million over five years. At the time, it was the largest cash gift received by the College of Engineering. The new, unconditional gift will support Yamazaki's work for another five years.
The funds will cover research expenses and support graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the laboratory. The ties to the company also benefit the students, through visits, exchanges and collaborations, providing an industrial environment that complements basic research.
"The students get a more direct understanding and are more motivated, and they see that the skills they are learning are in demand,"
Supporting such fundamental research enables the company to secure a supply of enthusiastic and well-trained engineers, benefiting not just Mori Seiki but manufacturing industry as a whole, Hansel said.
The money will support a new phase of Yamazaki's research, called ASCENTi-CNC (computer numerical control). "ASCENTi" refers to the idea of continuous improvement, or ascent, in machine speed, Yamazaki said.
Just as movies and TV shows are a mix of real and computer-generated images, modern machine tools today combine real and virtual objects, Yamazaki said. The computer controlling the machine contains a "model" of the object that it is cutting out. Numerous pieces of software work together to manipulate the model and control the machine. But as these intelligent systems grow, the speed at which the computer runs the software can become limiting.
Yamazaki's new plan is to replace software with dedicated, application-specific microcircuits that can execute the same processes, but much faster. A key question is understanding which components would bring the greatest gains in speed and efficiency, he said.
* Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533, firstname.lastname@example.org
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