Morgan Advanced Materials, a U.K.-based global engineering company, plans to open a 30,000-square-foot research and design facility at Penn State’s Innovation Park by late 2017. Called the Carbon Science Center of Excellence, the building is part of a partnership between Morgan and the university, which the pair announced on Tuesday.
Though the relationship between the organizations dates back several years, discussions to forge a long-term agreement crystallized this year. Jeff Fortin, the director of industrial partnerships at Penn State, said talks began in March and quickly progressed as both parties saw the benefits of a more permanent collaboration.
Morgan, which manufactures a plethora of high-performance ceramics and composites, has partnered with other universities before, but their previous work had been focused on a specific research project, said Mike Murray, Morgan’s chief technology officer. For both Morgan and Penn State, the agreement to bring a private-sector company to the university’s campus is a first.
“One of the big attractions about Penn State was that there were so many facets of research and development there,” Murray said. “We feel it gives us a really exciting base from which we can build a close collaboration with Penn State over many years and perhaps beyond the current field of carbon science.”
The single-story center will be constructed between buildings 230 and 330 at Innovation Park, said Neil Sharkey, Penn State’s vice president for research. Morgan, which currently has six manufacturing sites in Pennsylvania, will use the center to advance carbon research and development of materials. Sharkey said the company will partner closely with the university’s Materials Research Institute, drawing from both the academics and instrumentation the institute offers.
“The original intent of Innovation Park was to foster these types of relationships,” Sharkey said. “So it’s pretty exciting to actually see this come to fruition, where we’re actually building a new facility to accommodate a multinational company.”
Morgan has manufacturing sites in more than 30 countries. The company plans to create 15 positions associated with the center in its nascent stages.
Students will benefit via internship opportunities and career development, Sharkey added, besides sponsored research opportunities.
Fortin said the state will also benefit through the technologies and materials developed at the center. The hope is the agreement will be a catalyst for more companies to partner with the university in the future, he added.
“It’s exactly what we want to be doing more of at Penn State,” Fortin said.
Roger Van Scyoc: 814-231-4698, @rogervanscy