Industry-Sponsored Research Week

Michigan State’s new research park tenant eyes autonomous vehicle R&D and talent acquisition


By David Schwartz
Published: March 13th, 2018

If you want a closer relationship with industry, you can’t beat having them in your backyard. That’s in essence what the Michigan State University Foundation, MSU’s independent commercialization arm, has achieved with its new tenant in the university’s 300,000-square-foot corporate research park in East Lansing.

Applied Research Associates (ARA), a contract R&D firm based in Albuquerque, NM, has moved a team to the park in order to support MSU’s autonomous vehicle R&D efforts and scout young talent, says research park director Jeff Smith.

 ARA specializes in scientific research, technology testing, and product development in the fields of engineering, health, and alternative fuels. Berrie describes the operation as “a team of engineers for hire that solve big problems, everything from national security to clean energy,” and says the official move into the research park is the culmination of years of relationship-building.

According to Smith, ARA will work with students from MSU’s College of Engineering to advance mobility technologies such as object recognition, data fusion, control systems, and artificial intelligence.

“On campus, we’ll be looking at autonomous vehicles, drones — unmanned everything is a lot of what ARA focuses on,” Smith says. “Our work at the research park also ties into talent acquisition. By the time [engineering students] are juniors and seniors, they may already have a relationship with another company, which makes it hard to court them. If we’re close to campus, we can build that relationship with students sooner.”

As universities continue to look to industry to supplement shrinking federal research dollars, Smith predicts more public-private partnerships like the ARA deal in coming years as industry seeks to capitalize on the latest technologies and needs the young talent to develop them.

“We’re not necessarily focused on creating one or two jobs,” Smith says. “We want to connect industry to start-up and university activity. Those activities coming together under one umbrella will hopefully accelerate real economic growth.”

Source: Xconomy

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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