Virginia Tech and UTC Aerospace Systems have established a comprehensive research and education agreement that will focus on two areas of vital interest to the university, the company, and the aerospace industry: secure aircraft wireless networking and power electronics.

The company, known as UTAS, will invest $1 million over five years to help fund joint research, as well as scholarships, student capstone projects, and student competitions.

As part of the agreement, UTAS will collaborate on research with the university’s Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology, Wireless@VT, the Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems, and the Center for Power Electronics Systems.

The collaboration reflects a growing relationship between UTAS and Virginia Tech, and follows a 2015 donation of $100,000 from the company to support scholarships and experiential learning opportunities in the university‘s College of Engineering. The philanthropic component of the new agreement, which will support similar learning opportunities, totals $500,000.

“We are excited to collaborate with one of the world’s leading suppliers of aerospace and defense products,” said Virginia Tech Vice President for Research and Innovation Theresa Mayer. “We have promising joint research underway. This master research agreement sets forth an efficient process to foster additional collaboration.”

Zachary Newhart (electrical engineering ’17) describes a 3-D printed transformer case held by Mauro Atalla (engineering mechanics, Ph.D. ’96), UTC Aerospace Systems vice president of engineering technology, sensors, and integrated systems, during a visit by executives from the company to Virginia Tech.
Zachary Newhart (electrical engineering ’17) describes a 3-D printed transformer case held by UTC Aerospace Systems Vice President of Engineering for Sensors and Integrated Systems Mauro Atalla (engineering mechanics, Ph.D. ’96), during a visit by executives from the company to Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech’s agreement with UTAS comes amid a push by the university to deepen its relationships with industry. In January, Virginia Tech announced the creation of a business engagement center to help advance this goal.

UTAS is one of the world’s largest suppliers of technologically advanced aerospace and defense products. It is a unit of United Technologies Corp., which is based in Farmington, Connecticut.

“Our collaboration with Virginia Tech will help us execute against two of our company’s most important objectives — developing the most-advanced technologies in the world and training the next generation of engineers,” said UTAS Vice President of Engineering and Technology Geoff Hunt. “With its leading capabilities in wireless systems and power electronics and its proximity to key federal agencies, the university is uniquely positioned to help us achieve these goals.”

“We appreciate UTC Aerospace Systems’ generosity and engagement,” said College of Engineering Interim Dean G. Don Taylor, the Charles O. Gordon Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering. “Industry relationships enhance the education we provide. They enable us to be a valuable pipeline of talent to leading companies. They help fuel our research — and increase the likelihood that discoveries will be applied.”

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