By Juliana Palomino
Academic and industry leaders from 30 countries are gathering in Lexington, Kentucky, this week. The occasion? The 16th Global Conference on Sustainable Manufacturing.
Initiated in 2003 as an international one-day forum in the US, the event has blossomed into a two-and-a-half-day conference that will bring together leaders in manufacturing from around the globe: held in 12 countries during the last 15 years. Immediate past locations include Haifa, Israel; Ho-Chi-Minh, China; Berlin, Germany–and now, Lexington. Professor Guenther Seliger from the Technical University of Berlin in Germany is the founder of this conference series and will also be attending the conference next week.
Why was the University of Kentucky chosen to host this event? As Dr. I.S., Jawahir, professor, James F. Hardymon Chair in Manufacturing Systems, director of the Institute for Sustainable Manufacturing, and conference chair, explains, Kentucky was the natural choice.
“If you were to pinpoint one place on the globe where sustainable manufacturing is strongly emphasized in the US, that’s the University of Kentucky,” he says. “We have a diverse program, with faculty and students doing research and being hired in this area. In the past 15-20 years, many faculty members have joined forces to grow and share this discipline in Kentucky.”
Conference participants comprise academic researchers and manufacturing leaders from many industries, including aerospace, pharmaceutical, food and biomedical. The conference will begin with a Monday night welcome at the Lexington Convention Center, followed by three days of keynote speakers, research sessions and panels. UK President, Professor Eli Capilouto will open the conference on Tuesday morning.
Industry sessions will also take place, a new feature this year. Fazleena Badurdeen, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, director of graduate studies for the manufacturing systems engineering program, and also a conference co-chair, has played an integral role in planning that element and the entire conference.
“Industry leaders will be able to present challenges faced by companies, so that researchers can identify technology development needs,” she says. “We want this to be an opportunity for dialogue about problems so that methods to address those problems can be developed.”
Conference participants will tour local industries, including Georgetown’s Toyota plant and Winchester’s Infiltrator Water Technologies, which boasts three of the world’s largest injection molding machines. They will also attend a banquet at the Kentucky Horse Park and can attend Keeneland, which begins its fall meet day after the conference.
“We’ve worked hard to set up the event to showcase the best of Kentucky,” says Badurdeen, who has been planning the event since summer 2017. “It gives us so much pleasure to showcase UK and all the work it puts forth in this field.”
Conference topics will circulate around the primary theme of Circular Economy, and how it applies to sustainability’s three main pillars: economy, environment and society. The goal is for international collaboration across these three areas that will lead to lasting global change.
"Sustainability is beyond boundaries.” says Jawahir. “We want the world to be a better place, with developed economies, thriving environments and healthy societies. Sustainable manufacturing is the common thread among all of these goals.”
The conference website is: https://gcsm.eu