The University of Dayton looked at a former brownfield site adjacent to its campus and saw opportunity. On land now owned by the University, two Fortune 500 companies — GE Aviation and Emerson — have established research and development facilities.
In 2013, GE opened the GE Aviation Electrical Power Integrated Systems Center. Inside, University of Dayton researchers and graduate students work side by side with GE Aviation scientists and engineers to create advanced electrical power technologies such as new power systems for aircraft, longer-range electric cars and smarter utility power grids for more efficient delivery of electricity.
"Nowhere else will you find a similar facility where academic researchers and industry participants can come together under one roof [...]"
"We toured 11 other possible sites in the Dayton area, but being next to the University of Dayton was what clinched it for us," said Vic Bonneau, president of Electrical Power Systems for GE Aviation.
University president Eric Spina, himself an aerospace engineer, said Bonneau has praised the agility and problem-solving abilities of UD researchers at the EPISCenter. “While engineers were testing a new power-generation system in the EPISCenter, they discovered a vibration issue at extremely high speeds. One of our researchers offered to assemble an interdisciplinary team of colleagues and students, who quickly developed a real-time software solution to fix the problem,” Spina said.
The collaborative nature of the University’s culture has nurtured its nearly four-decade relationship with Emerson, a company best known for air conditioning and refrigeration technologies.
The Helix is Emerson’s premier innovation center where UD students and faculty work with Emerson engineers and industry leaders to develop innovations in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration industry. The 40,000-square-foot center contains six simulated environments that provide UD students a real-world refrigeration research playground they can’t find anywhere else — a fully functioning and furnished home, model supermarket, light commercial environment, commercial kitchen, data center, and industrial refrigeration system.
"This facility fills a real and critical need for the HVACR industry today,” said Ken Monnier '83, chief technology officer for Emerson's commercial and residential solutions business. "Nowhere else will you find a similar facility where academic researchers and industry participants can come together under one roof to discuss, develop and test technology solutions through various real-world applications. Here, new game-changing technologies and services will be conceived and tested to create beneficial change in our industry and world."
In fact, the collaboration has already resulted in a patent application – for an ice machine simulator which is designed to help achieve the U.S. Department of Energy's target of reducing energy in ice machines by 10-15 percent by 2018.