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Thursday, June 17, 2004
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New Ohio University Avionics Engineering Research Office meets current, future needs for students, faculty

ATHENS, Ohio (June 17, 2004) -- Ohio University dedicated the Richard H. McFarland Avionics Building during a ceremony today at the Ohio University Airport. The new facility is named for the founder of the Avionics Engineering Center.

President Robert Glidden congratulates Richard McFarland. Photo by Rick FaticaThe Avionics Engineering Center is the only facility of its kind in the United States. Since it was established in 1963, the center has been awarded nearly $80 million in contracts from sponsors including NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Defense. The center is involved in the research, development and evaluation of electronic navigation, communication and surveillance systems. The center also is a training ground for future avionics engineers and researchers.

The facility, which is located at the Ohio University Airport, includes 8,000 square feet of lab space, 11 engineering office suites and meeting facilities. A 3,600-square foot second floor provides opportunity for future growth.

"The new building provides much-needed lab and office space, both for now and for the future," Avionics Engineering Center Director James Rankin said. "This is truly an integrated research facility that will support avionics research here at the airport. Its airport location allows researchers to be closer to the aircraft and hangar labs."

McFarland, an Ohio University alumnus, is professor emeritus of electrical engineering and director emeritus of the Avionics Engineering Center. He also initiated the Richard H. McFarland Scholarship for Electrical Engineering.

"I am indeed honored and grateful for this honor. It's very humbling," said McFarland. "We have provided our students some unique educational experiences and that is the reason we are here. A building like this is a tribute to the good work of a lot of people. It takes a lot of creative work, persistence, energy and strong efforts to ensure success. My hope is that this building will inspire and ensure continued success in the future we have before us."

In addition, the center performs research for major airports across the world and other aviation industry organizations, including the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Wright Patterson Air Force Base and Air Force Research Labs, both in Dayton.

"This new facility shows Ohio University's commitment to the local area and to the airport, which of course is very committed to regional economic development," Ohio University President Robert Glidden said. "This new facility provides an opportunity for expanded growth by creating a regional hub for transportation, navigation research, flight training and further integration with the Department of Aviation and the Ohio University Airport. As you can see, this center is a real leader for the aviation industry, the university and the community. It is also a tremendously important educational resource as we train the next generation of avionics engineers."

Glidden pointed out that since 1972, the center has partnered with Princeton University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as part of the Joint University Program for Air Transportation Research, in which Ohio University researchers focus on avionics, Princeton researchers study flight control and MIT researchers study human factors in flight.

Additionally, the center is a major economic contributor to southeastern Ohio, with an annual impact of approximately $4.5 million in federal and industrial research grant money going toward local purchases, salaries and benefits.

The majority of the center's researchers have been housed on campus in Stocker Center, with some offices at the Avionics Hangar, located at the airport. The new facility will allow many of the avionics researchers to be housed at the airport.

Construction began in August 2003 and was completed in May 2004. The $2 million facility is funded by money generated through Ohio University's Office of Research: $600,000 from research incentive funds, and $1.4 million from an internal loan to be repaid by income obtained through Avionics Engineering Center research.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist George Mauzy, (740) 597-1794, or Russ College of Engineering and Technology Director of External Relations Colleen Carow Girton, (740) 593-1488

Editors: Photos from the event are available online at

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