Rowan seeks industry expansion

The university will partner with Lockheed Martin to have students and faculty research and develop radar technology.

Posted: March 20, 2014

GLASSBORO Rowan University announced Tuesday that it had entered an agreement with Lockheed Martin to have the company collaborate with the university's students and faculty on research and development of radar technology.

The move builds on a project begun last fall and, Rowan administrators said, is a new model for universities working with industry. The school has made high-profile pledges to expand, especially its research enterprise, with the engineering school seen as a core part of that mission.

"My hope is . . . eventually we will be able to reengineer a new university so that there will be a very, very close collaboration with industry," said Ali A. Houshmand, president of Rowan University.

"We want to tell the people that we do not want to be a traditional university that does everything by itself," he said. "We want to break that wall and get out in the world and partner with real-world industries."

Lockheed Martin, which employs about 3,600 employees in its Moorestown-based Integrated Warfare Systems & Sensors unit, approached Rowan about a year ago, Houshmand said.

The company worked with Rowan to develop a set of clinics, the real-world lab component that is required of all undergraduates in the university's engineering school. More than 100 juniors and seniors applied for last fall's inaugural clinic developing new graphics display technology for Lockheed Martin radar systems, said Shreekanth Mandayam, the university's vice president for research.

Of those students, 18 were chosen to participate in last semester's Lockheed Martin clinic. Eight of those students continued this semester in another twice-weekly Lockheed Martin clinic.

"The ongoing clinic activities have allowed both Rowan University and Lockheed Martin to develop its talent pipeline strategy in an environment that fosters learning and innovation," a company spokeswoman said in an e-mail.

Mandayam said the new agreement would expand student opportunities, including internships and jobs.

To help cement that pipeline, Lockheed will help develop the school's curriculum. The current clinics have been taught by a Rowan faculty member in conjunction with three Lockheed engineers.

"It's very unique, where industry is given an opportunity to participate directly in the curriculum of a university," Mandayam said. "So for the industry, it's an opportunity for them to train their workforce. And for us . . . it allows us to graduate students who have the ability to leap directly to the workforce."

Rowan also hopes the Lockheed Martin projects can help anchor the university-affiliated South Jersey Technology Park, about a mile west of the main Glassboro campus.

The university is preparing to seek proposals for two buildings totaling 275,000 square feet at the technology campus; when completed by the end of 2016, the school said, it hopes Lockheed Martin will be working so closely with the university that it decides to take some space in one of the new buildings. No leases or tentative agreements have been made yet regarding those possibilities, a Rowan spokesman said.

Lockheed Martin already is one of the largest private employers of engineering alumni, the university said. Still, university administrators described the new partnership as a game-changer for the program. Houshmand called the partnership "the most important announcement that we have made."

Mandayam, who is also the executive director of the technology park, sees enormous potential for his students.

"We would hopefully like to be their R&D wing," he said.

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