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Office of the Vice President for Research


McNAIR Center unveils plans for new home

Groundbreaking ceremonies are traditional milestones in the development of new facilities, but what to do when the ground that must be broken is covered in concrete and the building to be done will take months of highly technical—and messy—equipment installations and other specialized construction? The University of South Carolina's McNAIR Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research faced that very question over the summer when planning an event to unveil plans for their new open-plan, high-tech, facility in the SCRA-USC Columbia Innovation Center. The new facility, which will feature top-of-the-line manufacturing equipment used in aerospace manufacturing, specialized laboratory space and general-use work areas designed to foster collaboration. The McNAIR team decided to call their unveiling a "First Look," but the event attendees just called it a great success.

During the McNAIR Center First Look event, held July 28, USC President Harris Pastides explained the importance of this step forward and touted the major impact this one-of-a-kind center will have on the educational and economic future of South Carolina, and the broader aerospace industry. His remarks are transcribed below.

I could not be more excited about inaugurating today a facility that is world-class—you have to come back, though, when it's fully equipped. Professor Gürdal said it very quickly, that this will be the first time that a state-of-the-art industrial machine will be owned outside of a corporate entity, and that's the kind of equipment, and facility, that will allow companies large and small to come to South Carolina and play their role as best they could in developing the great aircraft and parts of the future.

Today USC becomes a catalyst in the ongoing economic development of our Palmetto State. —Harris Pastides

South Carolina's already hot. We know that we have a global network of 1,200 international firms that are located in South Carolina. Over 100,000 South Carolinians work for corporations that are headquartered outside of the state. We are the number-five state in terms of the regulatory environment for business. The port of Charleston has been in the center of global commerce for three centuries. It's one of the busiest container ports in all of the Southeast and Gulf Coast, and it averages 41 moves with a crane per hour. That's more than Jadaveon Clowney can move offensive linemen in and out—that's a lot of work.

South Carolina is a powerhouse. We have affordable and reliable energy, hydroelectric, nuclear, coal, natural gas and renewables. But you knew all that already. In the past, business and the state's research universities, including ours, have not always been in sync like they needed to be. But, today USC becomes a catalyst in the ongoing economic development of our Palmetto State. We're working together to invest in the talent pool that we need and I know Professor Gürdal, in the interest of not overlooking people, decided not to highlight individuals, but I would like to thank Anita Zucker from the Intertech Group, and our friend, who talks to me constantly about the importance of engineers and technicians and technologists and advanced workers of all kinds, and [how] we need to marry our engineering college with educational institutions so that South Carolina also becomes number one in workforce development, working with our technical colleges like Midlands Tech and everyone else.

So, this new advanced composite materials research center, we hope, will attract not only great students and great faculty, but also industry partners from all over the world. I do think South Carolina is positioned to be the center of choice for the global aerospace industry. We're already known for a lot of things. We're number one in tires, aren't we, having surpassed Ohio. But, we're going to be number one in aerospace, as well.

Thank you again, Anita Zucker, for your contribution in establishing the Zucker Institute for Aerospace Research; thank you for being with us. We're moving in the right direction.