May 18, 2007
By Andrea Gibson and Colleen Girton
Ohio University's Avionics Engineering Center announced Thursday it has achieved more than $100 million in cumulative research funding since its founding in 1963. The center helps industry leaders and agencies such as NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration design and test innovative technologies for air and space travel.
The university celebrated the center's research accomplishments Thursday night at its annual Director's Award Dinner, held in Margaret Walter Hall Rotunda.
"The Avionics Engineering Center is the leading research organization of its kind in the world," said Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis, who spoke at the event. "The entire university community takes great pride in its accomplishments."
The center specializes in the research, development and evaluation of electronic navigation, communication and surveillance systems for the aviation industry. Through its work in ground-based navigation systems, it has grown to become the world's recognized expert in Instrument Landing Systems. It also has been involved in the design of numerous technologies, including the Global Positioning System in fully automatic aircraft landing systems.
"The FAA, in particular our office, has relied heavily on Ohio University's technical expertise - both practical and theoretical - to maintain the present national airspace navigation and landing infrastructure," said Bill McPartland, deputy program manager for the FAA's ground-based navigation office, who attended Thursday's event.
A key player in the global aviation field and the development of international aviation standards, the center's experts regularly troubleshoot existing navigation systems and electronic issues at major international airports in the United States, Europe and Asia, including Los Angeles International, O'Hare International and London Heathrow.
The center also performs research for industry leaders such as Honeywell, Rockwell-Collins, Lockheed Martin and others. It has partnered with premier academic institutions such as MIT and Princeton University, working for the past 35 years to conduct navigation system research for the FAA and NASA. For the past 15 years, Ohio and Stanford universities have collaborated to study the use of aircraft GPS systems for the FAA.
"Over the decades, the center has had an enormous influence on the aviation community through this research and our student interns who moved on to a variety of top positions in the national and international aerospace community," said Michael Braasch, interim director of the center.
The only facility of its kind in the United States, the center also stands out at Ohio University for its longevity as a strong research program. It leads the university's centers and institutes in external research funding, attracting between $6 million and $9 million annually over the past few fiscal years.
"The Avionics Engineering Center is an outstanding example of how Ohio University can become a national and international leader in research," said Jim Rankin, Ohio University's interim vice president for research. "It has forged key partnerships with federal agencies and industry that have resulted in significant improvements to aviation safety and the aviation field in general."
The Avionics Research Center, part of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, has facilities at Stocker Center and the Richard H. McFarland Avionics Building at the Ohio University Airport.