News: Engineering research center to rise on west side of campus

Engineering research center to rise on west side of campus

04/01/2011

Engineering building front view

The front of the College of Engineering's forthcoming research building on Wolf Ledges Parkway. It will be built between the Buckingham Building and the Gas Turbine Testing Facility.


The College of Engineering is joining with the U.S. Department of Defense, The U.S. Department of Energy, Ohio companies and foundations to build a $14.8 million, 39,000-square-foot research facility on Wolf Ledges Parkway. UA expects the building to open next winter.

The University of Akron

Dr. George Haritos


"The facility will integrate industrial research space within the academic environment, rather than the other way around," says Dr. George Haritos, dean of the College of Engineering. "It's an innovative model: Ohio companies will have research space on our campus, and they'll be working directly with our faculty members and students on research that will yield discoveries and innovations which, in turn, will fuel business expansion and a further strengthening of Ohio's economy."

The building will be home to the National Center for Education and Research in Corrosion and Materials Reliability, as well as to laboratories and faculty offices supporting the delivery of the University's new undergraduate program in corrosion engineering, part of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.  

The facility also will house laboratories needed to carry out sensors research funded by the Ohio Third Frontier initiative, through the Wright Center for Sensor Systems Engineering. The departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Mechanical Engineering will direct the sensors research.

Moreover, several faculty from other departments in the College of Engineering, the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, will carry out collaborative research projects in the building.

Space within the building will be organized  in flexible modular units to optimize flexibility and efficiency.

Fund-raising is well under way

About three-fourths of the required funding is in hand.

The U.S. Department of Defense is providing more than $8 million to create and equip research laboratories and fund faculty positions for the UA-based National Center for Education and Research in Corrosion and Materials Reliability.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded the college a $1 million grant to acquire an electric dynamometer for the testing of electric powertrains and carry out associated research in power electronics.

The state's Third Frontier program has provided $1.67 million for equipment to support 3,000-square-feet of lab space for Ohio companies. This space will also support sensor conceptualization, development and testing for companies engaged with the college.

The Austin BioInnovation Institute in Akron will provide an additional $360,000 for research in sensors for biomedical applications from their Third Frontier funding which will further enhance the sensor development capabilities in the building.

To date, two foundations have made significant gifts: 

  • The Timken Family Foundation; and
  • The Fred A. Lennon Charitable Trust.

The University itself has allocated $6.6 million for the project.

Further, the college is working with a major global company to move some of its research assets to this building, allowing for an open innovation model and setting the stage for other such engagements.

College's rate of growth among nation's highest

The new research center will help the college meet an increasing need for space.

Undergraduate enrollment has increased 66 percent in the last six years, to 2,300 students in the fall semester of 2010.

In 2010, the college received more than $17 million in research funding, having more than quadrupled its research activity over the last four  years.

An internal study of the 150 largest engineering colleges in the United States revealed that UA's College of Engineering is growing at the third-fastest rate nationally.

How you can assist

Your gift in support of this project will provide direct research opportunities for UA faculty and students. Over time, your gift will help further elevate the prominence of the college, and it will help strengthen the state and national economies. Learn more about giving opportunities.

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Media contact: Laura M. Massie, 330-972-6476 or massie1@uakron.edu