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From the Dean: Innovating with industry

Dean WilliamsEngagement with industry has always been important to Ohio State’s College of Engineering. Research and development partnerships with major automotive and aerospace companies date back to the 1940s. And industry’s reliance on the engineering talent we produce has existed since Ohio State’s birth in the 1870s.

I believe collaboration with industry is more important today than ever. Universities are engines of discovery and talent development, and engines need fuel. For decades, the majority of this fuel came in the form of government funding, both federal and state-based. But the distribution of government funding for universities has changed, therefore we must adapt our methods of fueling the work and knowledge that leads to global solutions.

Research discoveries rarely make a global impact unless they are taken to market by a company or, somewhat less frequently, a non-profit organization. So it makes sense for Ohio State as a whole—and the College of Engineering specifically—to fully explore the multiple and mutual benefits of partnering with market-facing entities on research and development.

In the past year, we have begun committing resources and organizing assets to align with the innovation needs of key industries. 

Last year we launched the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) to be the manufacturing port of entry into The Ohio State University. Located on west campus, CDME provides industry with a simple, expeditious way to access all the technical and physical assets of the university and surrounding research community. We are fortunate to have alumnus and industry veteran John Bair leading this effort. 

This spring, we successfully recruited a worldwide leader in automotive engineering and R&D. Co-appointed by us and the Office of Research, Carla Bailo is Ohio State’s new assistant vice president for mobility research and business development. Ohio State is perfectly positioned to help define the future of mobility, of how to intelligently and sustainably move people and things. A former senior vice president of R&D for Nissan North America, Carla helps us package the university’s mobility assets so that our positioning can translate into impact.

Just a few weeks ago, we teamed up with the Office of Research again to appoint Mike Benzakein as assistant vice president for aerospace and aviation. Before arriving at Ohio State in 2004, Mike excelled for more than three decades at GE Aviation, where he was responsible for the engineering of the CFM56 and GE 90 engines. By integrating aerospace and aviation research and education university-wide, he will be equipped to develop new funding via industry to support the impactful work of our faculty and students.

In the near future, we will be taking similar strides in the biomedical and health care industries, starting with the growing cluster of such companies in the Buckeye State.

If you are reading this column, you are likely an Ohio State engineering alumnus doing great things in the private or public sector. If so, I encourage you to consider the College of Engineering as a technology and talent partner for your organization. The only thing better than partnering with an innovative company or non-profit, is partnering with one that includes Buckeye engineers!

David B. Williams
Monte Ahuja Endowed Dean's Chair
Dean of the College of Engineering
Executive Dean of the Professional Colleges

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