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Imagination at work

10:03 AM  Jul 11th, 2013
by President Daniel J. Curran

It’s rare for a global company to build a huge research center on a college campus, but GE Aviation doesn’t think small. Neither do we.

The world’s largest jet engine supplier spends about $1 billion annually on research-and-development efforts and plans to double its engine production during the next decade. I admire that kind of forward-thinking philosophy because we think and act boldly, too.

When finished this summer, GE Aviation’s new EPISCENTER rising along 8 acres at Patterson Boulevard and River Park Drive will create more electric power than any other lab of its kind in the world. The company says this aerospace research complex will be the “intellectual heart and soul” of GE Aviation’s electrical power business.

It will stand as a testament to what imagination — and collaboration — can accomplish. In the higher education landscape nationally, this innovative partnership can be a model for the future.

When we bought our first big parcel of land from NCR in 2005, we worked with regional leaders to secure the federal and state funds necessary to transform the largely vacant urban brownfield into a vibrant academic and mixed-use development. We envisioned attracting strong companies that could spur additional research, serve as real-world classrooms and spark economic development for the region.

Admittedly, some people thought that was a far-fetched idea. Not only is the EPISCENTER, which stands for Electrical Power Integrated Systems Center, opening this summer, Midmark, a worldwide manufacturer and supplier of health care products, is moving its corporate headquarters to the 1700 South Patterson Building on our River Campus.
These companies are looking for intellectual talent, for young professionals to join their ranks and build a future of innovation in Dayton. GE Aviation and Midmark will only have to look in their backyard for their future leaders.

Internships, particularly those that lead to full-time positions, are the top recruiting strategy for a growing number of employers. In the past year alone, we’ve seen a remarkable 43 percent jump in postings for internships and co-ops through our Career Placement Center.

GE Aviation wants to tap into the best minds in our classrooms and labs. That’s why the company is committing at least $1 million annually to bring graduate engineering students into the EPISCENTER to work on design teams.

Talk about a résumé builder. As Lorraine Bolsinger, then-president and CEO of GE Aviation Systems, told community leaders at the 2012 Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting, “This will not be an ivory tower kind of place. This is not a center where people will walk around in white lab coats and tinker in R&D as a hobby. GE scientists will team with UD graduate students and faculty to develop new electrical power systems for future aircraft. And we will sell them worldwide.”

That’s the kind of vision we at UD like, bold and forward-thinking.

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