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UofL campus to be home to first GE micro-factory

by John R. Karman III, communications and marketing last modified Apr 17, 2014 07:43 AM

A former storage facility on the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus is being transformed into GE Appliances’ first micro-factory, called FirstBuild.

UofL campus to be home to first GE micro-factory

Jay Rogers, CEO of Local Motors, speaks at Wednesday's announcement that GE will build its first micro-factory on the UofL Belknap campus.

An announcement about the new facility was made Wednesday morning at the site, 333 E. Brandeis Ave., before a crowd of nearly 200 people.

The 35,000-square-foot FirstBuild operation is scheduled to open this summer. It is a partnership among GE, UofL and Local Motors, a Phoenix-based open-source hardware innovator.

At FirstBuild, UofL students and researchers will have the opportunity to collaborate with GE engineers, workers from Local Motors and people from the community to innovate and accelerate the production of kitchen appliances. The micro-factory will include a showroom, kitchen demonstration area, metal and wood shops and lounge areas.

“The University of Louisville is excited to be expanding our collaboration with GE,” said UofL President James Ramsey. “Together, we’re finding new ways to grow technologies and our economy while giving our students real-world engineering experiences.”

The first set of projects at FirstBuild will focus on the future of cooking. Those working in the FirstBuild community will work to refine existing GE products and create new designs. Local community members interested in being involved with the project can learn more at

“In just a few months, this will be a thriving hub of innovation, collaboration and making,” GE Appliances President and CEO Chip Blankenship said during the April 16 announcement. “FirstBuild encompasses a new model of global co-creation and micro-manufacturing that will enable us to innovate and build new products faster than ever before.”

For UofL and GE, FirstBuild also is the latest step in an effort to create an advanced manufacturing hub called the Institute for Product Realization near the university’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering. The institute will be a place where students can conduct research while getting practical training on the latest additive manufacturing and technologies in a micro-factory setting.

For video of announcement, see


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