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Ohio's aerospace industry taking off with GE partnerships

GE Aviation and University of Cincinnati Research Institute (UCRI) have signed an agreement to collaborate at the new GE Aviation Research Center in Evendale and its three labs. GE says, "the scope of this agreement marks a first in Ohio between a leading aerospace company and a leading university research institute."

The labs making up the new research center:

  • Advanced low-emission combustion lab-will house a new test cell for engine combustors. In the heart of a jet engine, the combustor is where compressed air and fuel are mixed and ignited to generate thrust.
  • Ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) lab-GE and UCRI will test and evaluate advanced composite materials in a realistic environment.
  • Aircraft Energy and Thermal Management-GE and UCRI will link with GE's Electrical Power Integrated Systems Research and Development Center (EPISCENTER) being built at the University of Dayton, as reported by WVXU in July, and study the thermal management challenges these requirements create.

The new GE labs in Evendale will open between 2014 ad 2015. The EPISCENTER will open this December. In Evendale, GE Aviation is investing $100 million in capital improvements. UCRI has committed $1 million over the next three years for equipment. In 2012 Ohio's Third Frontier program gave UC a $5 million grant, also for equipment.  Inside the labs, researchers will develop a new generation of engines and their requirements.

Ohio's Third Frontier program has a key objective of encouraging and supporting partnerships between industry and research institutions. Assistant Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency Ryan Burgess said, "This really plays to some of the Third Frontier's key priorities and innovation and growing capital and talent around new technologies and new businesses and then also with the focus on commercialization."

UC engineering students will benefit

Dr. William Ball, VP of the office of research at UC, put the agreement in perspective. "It is about jobs and it is about jobs for our students." He said with GE's help, UC will produce the best workforce. UC and GE have collaborated on aerospace projects for a long time and hundreds of GE Aviation employees are UC graduates.

The new labs could help the case for a national UAS site in Ohio

Ohio has applied to be one of six FAA sites to test unmanned aerial systems. The government says it will pick the sites by the end of the year. UAS testing is already underway in Wilmington, as reported by WVXU last month.