Summer Tauber Interns Receive Hands-On Experience in NCMS’s Digital Ecosystem

For several years, NCMS has benefited from the talents of interns from the University of Michigan’s Tauber Institute for Global Operations (Tauber Institute). The NCMS projects provide the interns with valuable knowledge and expertise, engaging them in cutting-edge, real-time initiatives. The Tauber Institute is a joint venture between the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering.

This year’s interns, Liz Rubenson and Bryce Garver, have been tackling a project that demonstrates the abilities of the new NCMS digital ecosystem for trusted collaboration, branded as the NCMS Digital Proving Ground (DPG).

NCMS recently established the DPG, a novel, secure, cloud environment that, in part, allows industry, academic, and government users to remotely collaborate on the design, production, and sustainment of manufactured goods using advanced digital technologies. Its next-generation capabilities give users the ability to adapt and adopt new methods, new technologies, and new processes. The project in which the Tauber interns have contributed has been designed to illuminate the key advantages of digital methods versus traditional methods of manufacturing in the full lifecycle of a newly developed product. One goal of the project is to show the significant time reduction and cost savings when using cloud-based digital processes and additive manufacturing (AM), and position NCMS’s members and partners to capitalize on the newly recognized value of the digital proving ground.

As part of the intern selection process, Tauber students had a chance to review participating companies and their projects. Both Garver and Rubenson had expressed how impressed they were with NCMS.

“I was attracted to the structured collaboration I saw taking place at NCMS,” says Rubenson. “I also appreciated that NCMS is a neutral non-profit and the project was valuable.”

The Tauber team is tasked with demonstrating the impact of the DPG’s advantages. Many organizations design for AM in serial processes on standalone workstations. The DPG allows this process to be streamlined while enabling remote collaboration amongst multiple stakeholders and ensuring security of data.

“What I discovered during this project is that the DPG is a unique environment for government and industry to work together to produce digital twins and digital threads,” says Garver. “This [digital collaboration] is a new concept to the government, but they are beginning to understand it.”

For this project, the Tauber team has set out to achieve three goals. The team is working alongside a broader NCMS team to achieve these goals and create the deliverables listed below.

  • Assess the value and opportunities currently available within the DPG across a variety of users and companies
  • Showcase existing and prior DPG projects to highlight successes and provide insight for future DPG engagements
  • Reduce the time and effort required for users to be successfully vetted and onboarded into the DPG environment including initial training and startup

Both Rubenson and Garver felt they were able to define, value, and understand the benefits of the DPG—not only what it is, but the vast potential for the road forward and the many paths that the road can take. As with any new technology and process, Rubenson and Garver predict the need for a cultural shift and learning curve to fully embrace Industry 4.0 and all the opportunities that accompany the digital environment.

“I’ve always known I wanted to work in a digitally progressive environment. What I learned was the cloud environment is complex, but it is the future. That was hugely impactful to me,” says Garver.

Rubenson had a similar reaction to the DPG project.

“The technological world intimidated me, and I realized I have a lot to learn,” says Rubenson. “But this project has opened my eyes to the fact that digital manufacturing is our future.”

The findings from Garver and Rubenson will assist NCMS with enhancements to the DPG and provide it with use cases to support the value proposition.

“Liz and Bryce went above and beyond during their time at NCMS to advance the maturity of the DPG and enable widespread adoption, which will result in massive cost savings,” says Mike DeHeer, NCMS Project Manager and Tauber Project Lead. “Their caliber of work was exceptional, and they definitely represented the Tauber Institute extremely well.”

Rubenson and Garver will present their project findings to the Tauber Community on September 10, 2021.