GE and Southern Miss
(Note: the following is a press release)
Hattiesburg, Mississippi – Governor Haley Barbour and officials from GE Aviation today announced a unique research collaboration with the University of Southern Mississippi for technology and advanced material
development in the company’s Composites Operation in Batesville.
GE’s partnership with the Southern Miss School of Polymers and High Performance Materials is focused on the development of advanced materials (composites development processing) for the GEnx engine. The world’s only jet engine with composite fan blades, fan platforms and
fan case, the GEnx engine will power the Boeing 787 and 747-8 aircraft.
“This exciting partnership between GE Aviation and the University of Southern Mississippi combines GE Aviation’s expertise with the high-tech talent at Southern Miss,” Governor Barbour said. “These researchers are working together to develop the sophisticated processes and composite materials needed to produce next-generation commercial jet engines. Composite components are the way of the future in commercial aviation, and I am proud that the research and development work needed to build that future is happening right here in Mississippi.”
The collaboration is supported with a grant of approximately $2.4 million from the Mississippi Development Authority, the state’s lead economic development agency.
“GE’s relationship with Mississippi leaders and the state’s
university system has been outstanding,” said David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. “Simply put, we are teaming on unique technologies that ultimately impact future
The opportunity to be on the leading edge of such industrial developments with global implications reflects the university’s focus on research. “Southern Miss has an industry view of research that encourages university and industry linkages. These connections provide meaningful products to our partners while giving our students relevant
educational opportunities,” Southern Miss President Martha Saunders said. “As a comprehensive research institution, Southern Miss is committed to creating a culture that supports an innovative academic environment while being able to promote economic advancement for our
state and region.”
Three Southern Miss graduate students already have completed internships at GE’s Global Research Center in New York as part of the university-industry partnership. In all, about 15-20 students and faculty will be involved in the one-year project. Funds from the MDA grant will be used for research infrastructure.
GE Aviation has worked closely with the Mississippi Development Authority to develop partnerships with Mississippi universities to assist with the process and material development of products that will be placed at the Batesville Composites Operation in Batesville.
GE Aviation celebrated the opening of the Batesville facility, its newest Greenfield facility, in October 2008 and anticipates expanding the workforce to more than 100 people. The 300,000-square-foot facility produces and assembles advanced composite engine components which are
unique to the aviation industry.
The facility is currently in production of its first two GEnx product lines, fan platforms, installed between the engine’s front fan blades,and the assembly of the fan stator unit, a large circular structure that
encases the front fan.
“The project utilizes Southern Miss’ nationally recognized
expertise for the design, synthesis, characterization and formulation of novel, high performance polymeric products to achieve project goals of developing cutting-edge composites” said Dr. Shelby Thames, Distinguished University Research Professor and principal investigator
on the project.
“The concepts, teachings and expertise of the Polymer Science and Engineering faculty drive composites-focused research at Southern Miss.The age of reinforced polymeric materials, or composites, has arrived and accordingly, lightweight, high performance composites are now used
in many industry segments, including aircraft and marine infrastructure applications. We are delighted to be a member of this team,” Thames said.
Other professors involved in the project are Dr. Sarah Morgan, Dr. James Rawlins, Dr. Sergei Nazarenko and Dr. Derek Patton. Key research thrusts for the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials include marine and aerospace composites, sustainable materials, biomaterials and coatings. The program is supported by numerous federal and private funding agencies, including Office Naval
Research, National Science Foundation and Boeing. The School is an international academic leader in efforts to design, synthesize, use, test and formulate novel polymeric products and holds more than 50 patents.