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Relationship Building

The nearly four-decade relationship between the University of Dayton and Emerson, a company best-known for refrigeration, is heating up with the grand opening of The Helix.

The Helix, which celebrated its grand opening April 27, is a state-of-the-art innovation center where University of Dayton students and faculty will 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 five simulated environments that will provide University of Dayton students a real-world refrigeration research playground they can't find anywhere else — a fully-functioning and furnished home, a model supermarket, a light commercial environment, a commercial kitchen and a data center.

It will be an extension of the hands-on work University of Dayton students and researchers and Emerson have done together since the early 1980s.

"Emerson's influence is woven throughout the fabric of the School of Engineering," said School of Engineering Dean Eddy Rojas. "We deeply value our relationship with Emerson, as it has provided students with scholarships, hands-on projects in our Design and Manufacturing Clinic and Innovation Center, and co-ops and internships.

"Our relationship with Emerson provides tremendous value to a University of Dayton education and improves student outcomes. Opportunities our students will have in the Helix will only add to that."

The relationship started when Copeland Corporation, now a business of Emerson, started supporting the School of Engineering's minority engineering students, which continues today with two scholarships. Emerson increased that number to seven as part of the expanded opportunities coming with The Helix. The new scholarships include three for engineering students, one for a business student and one for a student in the University's ArtStreet Institute for Arts Nexus program. These are in addition to the long-standing Emerson Climate Technologies Inc. and Dean M. Ruwe, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering Endowed Scholarship that honors the retired president of Emerson's Copeland Business.

An Emerson grant in the mid-1990's helped establish the School of Engineering's Design and Manufacturing Clinic, which evolved into the Innovation Center.

That partnership is providing uncommon opportunities for experiential learning. Nearly 3,000 students have conducted more than 1,000 projects for more than 200 companies in the Innovation Center, meeting or exceeding expectations at a rate of 85 percent. Emerson has sponsored 84 of those projects. Within the Innovation Center is the Emerson Climate Technologies Product Innovation Laboratory established with a $1 million commitment.

"Emerson has been very generous with the support it provides our students, and already has provided our students opportunities to work in The Helix," said Becky Blust, Innovation Center director. "Emerson helps us show our students that entrepreneurship and innovation are not just limited to academic exercises in classrooms."

The support has extended to significant job opportunities for students while they're in school and as they start careers. Nearly 200 students have worked as co-ops or interns at Emerson. Many of them — more than 100 alumni holding more than 120 degrees — have gone on to jobs in Emerson companies.

"Emerson perennially is a top-10 employer of University of Dayton graduates," said Jason Eckert, University of Dayton director of career services. "I'm very excited about Emerson having a facility on campus. Students now can walk to internships or co-ops. This will only enhance the relationship."

While the relationship provides fertile ground for students to grow as engineers, it also offers professional development, educational and research opportunities for Emerson employees.

"Emerson executives and engineers serve on various University of Dayton advisory councils and have  continued their education in University of Dayton graduate programs or at the University of Dayton China Institute," said Rajan Rajendran, Emerson's vice president for system innovation center and sustainability who will oversee the Helix. "We've also worked with University of Dayton researchers on more than 50 sponsored research contracts in the areas of compressor fatigue, materials and lubricants."

That work will continue in The Helix and will focus on five markets: supermarket refrigeration, food service operations, residential connected homes, data center cooling and light commercial buildings. More information can be found at the related link.


News and Communications Staff