Rolls-Royce makes U.Va. University Technology Center

University to recieve internship, research opportunities, funding

Many of the Engineering Schools’ classes occur in Thornton Hall, above.

“Some of [the other Centers] I would say we are far better than, because they are regional and very much focused on application and not as much to research,” Haj-Hariri said.

The University has officially joined the global Rolls-Royce University Technology Centers Network, the two organizations announced Wednesday. The network is made up of “research groups in world class universities identified to develop long-term research and technology programs,” according to a press release. Both Engineering and Commerce students will be involved in research projects and business projects for the company.

Hossein Haj-Hariri, mechanical and aerospace engineering department chair, said the University will join an elite group of 31 other centers, 29 of which are in Europe.

“Some of [the other Centers] I would say we are far better than, because they are regional and very much focused on application and not as much to research,” Haj-Hariri said. “But there are a couple of universities in Europe that we would be proud to be on the same level as. In Europe there is Cambridge and in the U.S. there is Purdue and Virginia Tech. I think we are in the right ballpark and are in good company.”

The partnership with Rolls-Royce has brought new funding, which will provide resources for students, including unique internship opportunities, and chances to bring in new faculty.

“Rolls-Royce donated a lot of money to the University to create new labs and to update old ones,” Haj-Hariri said. “We [also] received funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia in support of this partnership to bring eight new faculty members to the University as well as six new endowed chairs, so senior faculty at other universities can be attracted to U.Va.”

Haj-Hariri said the partnership shares ideas both ways.

“There’s a lot of research we do through Rolls-Royce so it’s been a good source of new activity,” Haj-Hariri said. “[But] we don’t want to necessarily just get homework from Rolls-Royce. We also come up with new ideas. It’s a back and forth partnership.”

Fourth-year Engineering student Max Newman said Rolls-Royce’s resources are of great benefit to Engineering students.

“They fund a lot of different projects,” Newman said. “A lot of students utilize the lab facilities that Rolls-Royce funded. There’s been funding [from the company] and collaboration with the University on projects for about seven years now.”

Commerce students will also be able to work on the business side of the company’s projects, third-year Commerce student Jamie Wasserman said.

“It’s been a great experience actually getting to work on something that you can see in the real world,” Wasserman said. “The fact that Rolls-Royce takes our input seriously is really cool, and it’s really great to be able to go into an interview and talk about real-life projects that you have been working on. At first I never thought that would be possible for me to partnership with a company, especially one that’s as prestigious as Rolls-Royce.”

Haj-Hariri said relationships with companies like Rolls-Royce are important to the University.

“Going forward, it’s research,” he said. “So hopefully we will continue to do research with them and grow that volume. … A lot of good things have happened because we took a few risks. Research is the lifeblood of research universities like U.Va.”

Published April 11, 2014 in FP test, News

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