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Daytona Beach News-Journal Op-Ed: University-Industry Partnerships Speed Job Growth

University-industry research partnerships are vitally important to U.S. manufacturing, and at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach Campus, “a goal to provide more high-paying, high-quality jobs” drives all such efforts, Embry-Riddle President P. Barry Butler wrote in an op-ed published August 13 in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Butler cited two specific examples of innovation and economic progress based on university-industry research partnerships.

As one case study, he pointed to Volusia County entrepreneur Kristi Myers, an incubator tenant in Embry-Riddle’s John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Innovation Complex (MicaPlex). Myers received much-needed product design assistance from Embry-Riddle student Jason Jarnagin.

Myers’ company, which is developing a medical device called the Yankaddy®, could hire as many as 15 employees once the business gets off the ground, Butler noted.

Jarnagin, under the guidance of Embry-Riddle Mechanical Engineering Professor Sathya Gangadharan, proposed design changes to the Yankaddy® so that “it can be produced in half the time and it will be more user-friendly, too,” Myers said.

Butler also described Embry-Riddle’s work with Sparton Corporation, a global leader in the manufacture of sonobuoys – SONAR-based anti-submarine listening devices. Sparton Corporation currently employs 534 people at its facility in DeLeon Springs, Fla.

As part of a Computer Integrated Manufacturing course offered by Gangadharan, Sparton engineers Ron Sheldon, Bret Reid and Scott Anderson worked with Embry-Riddle graduate students. The students’ recommendations included a key “Aha!” moment that could “significantly increase efficiency and profitability for a major Volusia County business,” Butler noted.

“American manufacturing – hit hard by the recession of 2009 – has been making a significant if uneven comeback, thanks largely to technology-focused innovations,” Butler wrote in his op-ed. The university research park model has worked well in other regions of the country, and Volusia County deserves the same kind of success.

ACADEMIC SUPPORT FOR INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIPS

The university’s long-standing partnership with Sparton Corporation promotes innovation and allows the company to identify new engineering talent, said Mark K. Madore, the company’s General Manager, who was cited in Butler’s op-ed.

For students, Gangadharan said, “The local manufacturing community can help provide valuable industry experience and knowledge to the classroom.”

Specific academic programs are being advanced by Embry-Riddle to support university-industry partnerships such as the ones that Butler described in his op-ed article.

For example, Gangadharan, in partnership with Radu Babiceanu, Associate Professor of Systems Engineering, and Anke Arnaud, Associate Professor of Management in Embry-Riddle’s College of Business, are initiating a new graduate track called Manufacturing Systems Engineering.

“The goal of this new multidisciplinary track is to help create entrepreneurs who will work closely with the MicaPlex Incubation Center on innovative ideas,” Gangadharan said.

As part of the Manufacturing Systems Engineering track, Gangadharan added, a graduate course called Lean Manufacturing and Design for Six Sigma was offered during the summer term. Lean Six Sigma is a performance-improvement approach – widely used in the military, business and government sectors – in which teams work within an organization to systematically remove “waste” from a process and decrease defects in products and processes, Gangadharan explained.

The graduate students involved in this course successfully completed lean manufacturing projects with Sparton. The course also helped prepare students for the Lean Six Sigma “green-certification” exam – a credential that is highly sought-after by employers.

Paul Shacklady, Scott Hale and Christina Chandradat from Hudson Technologies, along with Scott Anderson, Bret Reid and Ron Sheldon from Sparton, “helped the students through their valuable black-belt experiences in the Six Sigma learning process,” Gangadharan said. “Having green-belt certification helps our students gain a competitive edge and makes them more marketable. They can then attain the black-belt certification after full-time work experience, and they will be well on their way to launching a highly successful career path.”

Gangadharan added, “Embry-Riddle’s efforts to work hand-in-hand with Volusia County manufacturers benefits students, faculty and the whole Embry-Riddle community.”

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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 80 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit erau.edu, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and facebook.com/EmbryRiddleUniversity, and find expert videos at YouTube.com/EmbryRiddleUniv.