Third Frontier Paves the Way for Innovation by Students and Faculty

Ohio’s Third Frontier program provides funding for four collaborative research projects that support YSU students and faculty for research conducted in conjunction with industry partners.

Mike Hripko, Director of STEM Research and Technology-Based Economic Development, said, “The YSU STEM College is enjoying unprecedented success in receiving research funding through Ohio’s Third Frontier Program.” Martin Abraham, Dean of the STEM College, added, “While STEM has previously received Third Frontier funding, this is the first time we have four concurrent grants active at the same time.”

Dr. Darrell Wallace of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering is working with M-7 Technologies to develop manufacturing equipment which can simultaneously process precision measures and perform material surface analysis. They were awarded $1.66 million in 2010 through the Wright Center for Sensor Systems Engineering, a Third Frontier program.

Dr. Virgil Solomon of the Department of Material Science and Engineering was awarded $1 million to oversee a project with Third Millennium Metals. They are investigating properties in a new carbon infused copper metallic composite that will reduce wire size and increase conductivity.

Dr. Solomon is also working with Delphi Corporation to investigate aluminum battery cable which will be used in electric and hybrid vehicles. Aluminum is less expensive than copper and will allow for smaller cable size. They were awarded $1 million for the initiative.

Dr. Josef Simeonsson of the Department of Chemistry is collaborating with Polyflow Inc. on a $1 million research project to develop a process to turn polymer waste (i.e. plastic bottles, containers) into fuel. Along with this grant, YSU also received $600,000 for capital equipment to support the research.

Each project involves undergraduate and graduate students working in conjunction with faculty and the industry partners. This type of collaboration not only enhances the educational experience but provides opportunities for future employment with these companies.

The grants provide funding for a period of one to two years on each project. Hripko added, “These and other research awards are critical to the success of the STEM College, as they provide much needed capital equipment, funding for undergraduate and graduate student research, and relevant scientific discovery opportunities for our students.”

The Ohio Third Frontier program is a technology-based economic development initiative that supports existing industries working with new globally competitive products. Ohio voters approved the $700 million extension of the program in 2009. Its purpose is to foster and attract new companies to Ohio promoting job development and innovative processes. More information on the program can be found on its website.

Youngstown State University holds third annual Sustainable Energy Forum

Youngstown State University hosted its third annual Sustainable Energy Forum on June 5, 6 & 7, 2011. This conference brought together more than 200 attendees from academia, government and industry in far-reaching discussions on various aspects of sustainable energy, including wind, solar, bio-fuels, energy efficiency, liquid fuels, landfill gas and fuel cells.

While the primary objective of the conference was to highten awareness of the imminent environmental challenges and to propose commercially and scientifically viable solutions to resolve problems, other conference objectives included:

  1. Guiding regional economic development through the commercialization of energy technologies.
  2. Promoting collaborative green energy technology ventures, linking the government, businesses and the university.
  3. Discussing information on technologies involving renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  4. Identifying specific areas of essential research and topics for forthcoming discussions.
  5. Pinpointing opportunities to pursue joint research in technology development for sustainable energy.

A key theme for the 2011 Conference was ‘Driving Down the Commercialization Cost of Energy Technologies’. The conference format included several presentations by regional, national, and international researchers, engineers and government figures who all share a keen interest in Sustainable Energy solutions.

Keynote Speakers included Mr. Eric Spiegel, President of Siemens North America, Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy Dr. Henry Kelly, Mr. Jack Ihle, National energy Policy Expert, and Congressman Tim Ryan.

Over a dozen regional agencies and manufacturers displayed product innovations and collaboration opportunities in an Energy Expo that ran concurrent with the conference. Event sponsorship was provided by V&M Star, NorTech, the Dominion Foundation, Johnson Controls, Roth Brothers, the Regional Chamber, Applied Systems and Technology Transfer, and the Youngstown Business Incubator.