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ESL, Industry, Government Partner on Expansion

New ESL BuildingThe new Wireless Communication/Radio Frequency Research Building is slated to open in early 2011. The east end of the building (right) will provide modern work and collaboration space for faculty, researchers, staff and students, who will move from the cu

The ElectroScience Laboratory is reinventing itself to incorporate a model where private companies and public universities work together under the same roof.

The new 40,580-square-foot Wireless Communication/Radio Frequency Research Building is scheduled to open in spring 2011 and will connect to and complement the existing ElectroScience Laboratory.

Almost 70 years ago, the ESL was created as a government-sponsored research facility to satisfy national defense needs in wireless communications, radars and optics. Since then, the lab has evolved into a center of excellence in the College of Engineering with a legacy of teaching, scholarship and cutting-edge research.

Having outgrown its aging 55-year-old home, the ESL has partnered with the Science and Technology Campus Corp. (SciTech) to occupy space in a new $7.3 million Wireless Communication/Radio Frequency Research Building. SciTech, the university-affiliated developer of the 40,580-square-foot building, began construction in fall 2009. A covered walkway will connect the new facility to the existing ElectroScience Laboratory building, where its laboratories, anechoic chamber, cleanroom and other research equipment will remain.

In addition to providing a modern space for ESL’s 130 faculty, researchers, staff and students, the new facility will support novel research partnerships. Individuals from private industry will have direct access to the best faculty and researchers in the country in electromagnetics, sensors, wireless communications and optics/photonics, as well as to expensive and specialized research facilities.

“We expect these unique research partnerships to launch spinoff companies that develop new technology, leading to commercialization of university research and increased research funding for the ElectroScience Laboratory,” Interim Engineering Dean Gregory N. Washington says, adding that the partnerships offer opportunities for internships and jobs for students.

One example is ESL’s innovative relationship with Northrop Grumman. The goals of this partnership are to increase student interest in radar and electromagnetics and to fulfill an industry need for technical expertise in this area. The ElectroScience Laboratory provides advanced degree education to employees of Northrop Grumman while they work at the company’s satellite research location at ESL. Northrop Grumman donated a state-of-the-art APN-241 Doppler Color Weather Radar System for education and research and provides financial support to students through annual fellowships.

Along with gaining hands-on experience and working with industry partners to solve real-world problems, ESL’s graduate and undergraduate students will benefit from new and expanded resources to support their educationand research, including a computing facility, multimedia creation room and interactive conferencing room.

“This critically needed new space will enable the ElectroScience Laboratory to continue to attract world-class faculty and students, strengthen ESL’s legacy of innovation, teaching and scholarship, and ensure pre-eminence in research for decades to come,” says John Volakis, director of the ESL and professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The construction of the new facility is supported by nearly $5 million in Ohio Third Frontier funds obtained via the Institute for Development Commercialization of Advanced Sensor Technology (IDCAST) and a Third Frontier Ohio Research Scholars Program called the Ohio Academic Research Cluster for Layered Sensing, both led by Larrell Walters at the University of Dayton. Alumni donations and the Ohio State College of Engineering provided the remaining funds needed to construct the new building.

John Volakis, (614) 292-5846,

On the Web: ElectroScience Laboratory

Tags: Research