Carnegie Mellon University

Dear Carnegie Mellon University Community:

I am delighted to inform you that the U.S. Department of Defense has selected a nonprofit created by Carnegie Mellon University to lead a major new effort in advanced robotics manufacturing. This independent institute, with a total investment of more than $250 million, further strengthens CMU’s leadership role in the research, development and deployment of a new wave of manufacturing technologies that will shape industry and society for decades to come. 

Earlier this morning, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that it would award a new Advanced Robotics Manufacturing institute to American Robotics, an independent nonprofit entity located in Pittsburgh and founded by CMU. The DOD will invest $80 million in the project over a five-year period. More than 220 partners from industry, academia, government and the nonprofit sector, who will participate in the institute, have pledged an additional $173 million in support of the work of this institute.

The institute will promote the use of technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomy and 3-D printing to transform manufacturing, making industrial robotics affordable for small business and adaptable for many purposes, while dramatically improving productivity. That, in turn, has the potential to create new jobs and spur economic growth. For more about the institute, please see the CMU news release.

The institute, in turn, will benefit not only from CMU’s pioneering research and technical expertise, but also from our distinctive strengths in such areas as policy, data analytics, cybersecurity and ethics with the potential for significant impact in the human and societal dimensions of technological change. CMU’s extraordinary blend of capabilities in these realms will be featured for world leaders next week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and it has been recognized in investments such as the $10 million gift from K&L Gates last fall to study the ethics of artificial intelligence 

A project of this magnitude and scope would not have been possible without the wonderful teamwork of numerous faculty and staff at Carnegie Mellon. I express our profound gratitude to Gary Fedder and Howie Choset, who led the development and preparation of this proposal and who will play a pivotal role in the establishment of the institute. Their work was guided by the offices of Provost Farnam Jahanian and General Counsel Mary Jo Dively, and by other colleagues from the senior leadership team. They also were strongly supported in their efforts by many colleagues from the academic and administrative ranks, including George Darakos, Debbie Harvard, Martial Hebert, Herman Herman, Jeff Legault, Timothy McNulty, Andrew Moore, Nancy Pollock, Patti Rote, Debbie Tekavic, Howard Wactler and Cheryl Wehrer. 

We also are enormously grateful for the ongoing support of robotics research at CMU from many Pittsburgh-based nonprofits, including the R.K. Mellon Foundation, Heinz Endowments, Hillman Family Foundation and Benedum Foundation, as well as a number of government agencies.


Subra Suresh
Henry L. Hillman President’s Chair
Carnegie Mellon University