UofSC’s McNair Center signs research partnership

Posted on: 3/26/2014; Updated on: 3/26/2014
By Jeff Stensland

The Ronald E. McNair Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research at the University of South Carolina announced a formal research partnership with Fokker Aerostructures, a subsidiary of Dutch-based Fokker Technologies, to support and inspire their development of next-generation aircraft technology.

This is the company’s first partnership with an American university research center.

The multi-year research agreement establishes a framework to collaborate on projects that meet the needs of Fokker Aerostructures and its customers. Specific project details are being finalized, and likely will involve the development of advanced manufacturing technology for thermoplastic composites, using digital image correlation to better understand failure mechanisms and certification strategies for the use of new advanced composite structures.

Fokker is a leading global aerospace specialist that delivers smart, integrated, economic solutions that offer technology benefits in terms of cost, weight and availability. 

The McNair Center, which opened in 2011, has 27 contributing researchers working in a wide range of aerospace related research fields. The goal of the partnership is to develop and commercialize new technology, processes and methods and take products to market through licensing agreements.

Richard Cobben, vice president technology and Rob Kruithof, director of global Engineering for Fokker Aerostructures, say two things attracted the company to McNair—geography and existing research expertise.

“South Carolina is an interesting environment because there are so many aeronautics companies located nearby, such as Gulfstream, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Cessna and Honda jet, and many of their suppliers. McNair is situated in the center of all of that activity,” Cobben said. “Although the McNair Center is new, it’s clear that they bring to the table a lot of experience in different fields. We’re always looking to find the best knowledge networks—that’s our lifeline.”

In addition to the research agreement, Fokker Aerostructures will join the McNair Center’s Strategic Advisory Board, which is chartered to help build and validate McNair’s future research roadmaps.

 Zafer Gurdal, director of the McNair Center, said the research agreement is an important step in establishing the McNair as a top destination for industry to partner with for research and services.

Michel van Tooren, deputy director of the McNair Center said, “Fokker is a world-class company and we’re excited about this partnership to not only raise the profile of McNair, but to use leading-edge technology to make aircraft faster, safer and more efficient.”

The research agreement is the result of a comprehensive six-month effort to establish and develop McNair’s capabilities and expertise with Fokker officials.  It also represents a significant coordination among the McNair team of researchers, staff and various business offices across the university, said McNair Center excecutive director Marty Keaney. “The level of professionalism and enthusiasm from the USC family made developing this research concept smooth and successful,” Keaney said.

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