Researchers at the University of Akron increasingly have become partners with industry, checking or adding to company work. A new Engineering Research Center on Wolf Ledges Parkway is expanding most productively on the relationship, closer ties with the private sector promising to advance significantly the ability of the region to compete in the high-tech economy.
Six months after opening, all space in the center now is either occupied or spoken for — with an addition in the works. Outside investment not only has outfitted labs and paid for research. It has helped to fund the original building. Besides corporations, foundations and the federal government also have contributed.
As George Haritos, the dean of the UA College of Engineering, explained to Carol Biliczky, a Beacon Journal staff writer, “companies get degreed engineers and students get a project on which to base their dissertation or thesis.”
The full potential of the center lies in the competitive edge it will provide local companies, five scientific institutes forming a hub around which networks of similar firms can form and grow. The institutes focus on practical applications, their work directly applicable to problems in the real world. They conduct research in corrosion resistance, biomedical engineering, tires, surface engineering and friction resistance, advanced vehicles and energy systems.
For the regional economy to rebound fully and expand, such partnerships are essential, universities bringing together the best minds, supported by government, business and philanthropic interests.