Two years ago, the Japanese machine tool company DMG Mori Seiki collaborated with UC Davis’ College of Engineering to build a $50 million factory with state-of-the-art equipment only five miles away from campus.
The manufacturing facility specializes in large-scale manufacturing units and the pre-assembly of major machine systems before they move through the assembly line process. Since its opening in July 2012, the factory has employed about 150 workers in the local area and has provided valuable career and internship opportunities for UC Davis students.
“Students have participated in a number of training programs at DMG Mori Seiki. Moreover, students are often hired to work there during the summertime so that they can be exposed to advanced manufacturing techniques,” said UC Davis College of Engineering Dean Enrique Lavernia in an email interview. “I believe Davis is an excellent place to build [the factory]. It is located strategically close to Sacramento, as well as to San Francisco, and it draws on the expertise of the faculty, staff and students at UC Davis.”
In 2000, four UC Davis graduate students, who had studied under UC Davis mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Kazuo Yamazaki, founded Digital Technology Labs (DTL), which Mori Seiki eventually acquired and used to create the future research subsidiary to the Japanese-based Mori Seiki.
“Dr. Mori, an original family member of the firm, is a member of the College of Engineering Dean’s Executive Committee and somebody who I value and respect very much,” Lavernia said. “His advice has been very helpful to the progress and growth of excellence in our college.”
The manufacturing facility is located off of Second Street in east Davis between FMC Shilling Robotics and Target, and is approximately 200,000 square feet on 14.5 acres.
“DMG Mori Seiki taps into the excellent resources of UC Davis faculty, students and the Davis and Sacramento community,” said UC Davis College of Engineering Director of Corporate Relations Greg Gibbs, in an email interview. “Access to Interstate 80 and Interstate 5 also provide easy transportation options for supplying their North American customers.”
Gibbs has worked in his current position since January of 2006, and managed the relationship between the company and the university as the venture was taking place.
“It has been a pleasure as dean of engineering to work closely with Dr. Mori in the growth of our academic programs in the area of manufacturing,” Lavernia said. “His advice as well as his financial support [has] allowed the college to grow in terms of the depth and breadth of its academic programs in manufacturing.”
Mori Seiki’s relationship between the UC Davis College of Engineering has been an important supporting factor for the university’s engineering students and their studies.
“Mori Seiki’s been a great benefactor for the College of Engineering,” said Director of Marketing & Communications for the UC Davis College of Engineering Paul Dorn. “They donated millions of dollars worth of equipment so that our students have the opportunity to learn on state-of-the-art machinery.”
According to Lavernia, DMG Mori Seiki and the College of Engineering are currently looking at plans of future advancement for the facility that will help put Davis in the limelight for technological advancement.
“DMG Mori Seiki, together with the College of Engineering at UC Davis, are currently exploring additive manufacturing techniques,” Lavernia said. “In my opinion, [these] will revolutionize the industry and will put Davis at the center of an important area [of technology].”