In the foreground are samples of what the WFL mill turn machine can do at OMIC. In the background, are from left,
Matt Carter and Bill Gerry (both SPEEA members) and Craig Campbell (OMIC executive director). The state
legislature funded the collaborative research center to grow jobs in the state and region. To date, 21 companies belong to
OMIC, including Boeing. More than 600 machine shops operate in the Portland area. Boeing’s Portland campus has one
of the largest titanium machine shops in the country.
Not just global
The OMIC partner companies are not all global
and not all aerospace. They
include a ship company, a
truck company, a chainsaw
chain manufacturer, a New
Jersey company that makes
and a small machine shop
The center benefits the region and the country through collaborative research that starts at
OMIC and then goes to partner companies for
customization. “We’re bringing in work because of
the competitive advantage we have,” noted Carter.
The competitive advantage is why OSG USA,
Inc., bought land next door to OMIC for its first
U.S. production facility. This Japanese-based
company produces precision drills which are
used extensively at Boeing.
Similar centers are located next to related industries at the other 14 industry/university research
centers, including AMRC in England.
Multiplying manufacturing job growth has been
in Oregon’s master plan for decades, Carter said.
But he sees the impact on job creation and growth
expanding beyond the state. Boeing Everett, for
example, has two projects at
OMIC regarding rapid tool-
ing. A third project under
way is proprietary. “We see
OMIC as an extension of
the work we do at Boeing,”
SPEEA Portland member
Naterwalla works in Boeing
Commercial Airplanes (BCA), but he and
Carter both worked with AMRC, as well as
helping launch OMIC.
Both of them see AMRC Director Adrian
Allen, as a big driver in the successful turnaround of AMRC and the launch of OMIC.
“Allen understood our pain points,” Naterwalla
said about the research gap. “You can’t fly across
the pond at the drop of a hat. He really got the
ball rolling on a satellite version of AMRC.”
Right people, right time for OMIC
SPEEA Oregon Area Rep Matt Carter focuses on the right people coming togeth- er at the right time to do the right things
and build relationships unheard of before.
Carter was there from the beginning - when
OMIC was just an idea. After starting at Boeing
Renton on the 7J7, a turbo prop program that
was canceled, he transferred to Portland in 1992
to work on gears in actuation systems.
Not long after moving to Oregon, some univer-
sity professors invited him to join the Oregon
Metals Initiative (OMI). The region has about
600 metal shops.
“This (OMIC) was always in our sights,” said
Carter, regarding the indus-
concept. “But you can’t start
with that. People aren’t used
to working together. That
aspect has to be developed.”
OMI’s initial success was
partial state funding for one
project and one industry partner. OMI hoped
to spread the effort to other industries and the
other engineering schools in the state.
For universities to grow their programs through
additional funding, they needed allies in the
legislature. The OMIC concept gave them an
edge, Carter said. “This caused everyone to
‘Play to their strengths’
OMI branched into a ne w group called Northwest
Collaboration for Sustainable Manufacturing
(N WCSM). This group started holding monthly
meetings that included the three engineering college deans.
“They started to build relationships,” Carter said.
“On the industry side, they saw universities start
to play to their strengths instead of duplicating
efforts. Faculty had never done that before.”
At NWCSM’s annual meeting in 2015, Carter
invited Adrian Allen, director of the Advanced
Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) in
Sheffield, England. He reviewed NWCSM’s
progress and encouraged the group to pursue
its own version of AMRC right away.
That meant going to the state legislature for funding. They found an ally in Oregon State Senator
Betsy Johnson, a pilot who ran a helicopter business for 20 years. Through Johnson’s leadership,
they secured funding in 2016 to purchase a building and 10 acres in Scappoose, Ore., and then
another $14 million the following year to expand
the functionality with more equipment and staff.
The state funding pays for the operating costs
and the industry partners’ dues go directly
to research, noted Craig
Campbell, OMIC execu-
tive director. “The poten-
tial is just tremendous.”
For example, the Mill Turn
machine dramatically increases the capacity of
OMIC and sets the stage for large-scale proj-
ects. “Most metals shops don’t have access to
machines of this size,” Campbell said.
Portland Community College (PCC) will
launch the OMIC training center to offer
classes starting in the fall of 2020. “This training center will provide the skills apprentices need
to know to enter the manufacturing workplace,”
That’s why OMIC is so important to the state
and the region, Campbell added. “If a person
has a job, most of their problems disappear.”
Resolving IP issues
Navigating industry concerns about Intellectual
Property (IP), Bill Gerry, a SPEEA member
and program manager for
BR&T materials technical
integration, played a key
Gerry’s career at Boeing
has all been in the area of
research and development.
Continued on page 6
“One of the reasons we were successful
is the support from rank and file -
organized labor.” - Bill Gerry,
SPEEA member, program manager
for Boeing Research and Technology
materials technical integration and
OMIC Board member.
“The potential is just tremendous.” -
Craig Campbell, OMIC executive
“There are zero-sum thinkers. This
isn’t one of those. This is win-win-
win.” - Matt Carter, SPEEA
member, Boeing Technical Fellow
and OMIC Board member