Manufacturing Research Center Nears Completion
Posted: August 9, 2012
Construction is nearly complete on an advanced manufacturing research center in Prince George County, the center's executive director told Chesterfield County Chamber of Commerce members Wednesday.
The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, or CCAM, is on Rolls-Royce North America's Crosspointe campus, where the company has an aircraft engine components plant.
The 60,000-square-foot center will do research for a group of manufacturing companies with operations in Virginia under a partnership with Virginia Tech, Virginia State University and the University of Virginia.
"Our job is to listen to these companies, and then use the technology and expertise and equipment that will be at our world-class research center, and that already exists at our world-class universities, to solve their problems, but to do it at business speed," said David Lohr, CCAM's president and executive director. Lohr said he expects the building will be ready for occupancy in early September.
He spoke at the chamber's monthly luncheon at Meadowbrook Country Club, along with Thomas Loehr, executive vice president of the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe plant.
They touted the research center, combined with Rolls-Royce's goal of attracting suppliers to its 1,000-acre Crosspointe campus, as a way to create a high-tech manufacturing hub.
"It's an opportunity for Virginia to create the Silicon Valley of advanced manufacturing right here," Lohr told the chamber members in response to a question about the economic development potential of the center.
Lohr said he envisions other research facilities being developed near CCAM along with a workforce training center.
Eight manufacturers, including Rolls-Royce, Newport News Shipbuilding and Siemens, have joined a consortium that will support research at the center. Seven others are expected to join soon, but Lohr said he wants to recruit at least 30 private-sector partners.
The goal is to do $15 million to $20 million worth of research a year for the companies in the partnership. Eventually, the center will employ about 60 people, most of them with advanced degrees in science and engineering, Lohr said.
The universities will have faculty at the center and will have students do internships there. More than $1 million in research projects already are being conducted at the universities on their own campuses for CCAM, Lohr said.
The universities have a master research agreement covering the research they conduct for CCAM, Lohr said. Intellectual property rights to the research will belong to whatever company funds a specific project, or to CCAM if it is jointly funded.
"That's extraordinary," Lohr said. "I don't know of any other place in the country where three universities have done that, and it makes CCAM unbelievably powerful.