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Remove Before Flight: Notre Dame Cuts the Ribbon

Friday, July 15, 2016

Like the red safety ribbons that must be removed from sensitive aircraft components before takeoff, the University of Notre Dame cut the ribbon on a major joint project in early June: the new Turbomachinery Laboratory located in South Bend’s Ignition Park.

Researchers, University leaders and representatives from both public and private sectors were on hand to celebrate the opening of the new facility. “This facility gives our students and faculty a unique capability — we can work in a research and development space no one else works in,” said Vice President for Research Robert J. Bernhard. “It will help us draw the best faculty and graduate students to Notre Dame while providing valuable data to our business partners about their technology and equipment.”

The 25,000 square foot, $36 million facility is the nation’s most advanced research and test facility focused on turbomachinery technology. This technology is used in many forms throughout the world, such as commercial aircraft, power plants and by the oil and gas industry. The new facility is five times bigger than the previous lab operating on campus, with four test bays and room for further expansion. The new facility will eventually employ 60 people.

During the ceremony, the University announced a new Center of Excellence agreement has been signed with Pratt & Whitney. “We are very excited about the addition of Notre Dame as one of our University Centers of Excellence. Pratt & Whitney is committed to differentiating our products through investment in fundamental research and development of new technologies. Notre Dame has outstanding technical capabilities that complement our research needs,” said Chris Kmetz, vice president and chief engineer, Systems Design and Component Integration, Pratt & Whitney, and a 1991 graduate of Notre Dame.

Among the many private and public partners in this project are General Electric Co., which contributed $13.5 million to fund research and testing for five years, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, which provided $600,000 in training grants and up to $2 million in infrastructure assistance and the city of South Bend including funding for equipment, land and tax abatements.

This is one more way in which Indiana’s aerospace industry continues its rapid ascent as more than $900 million in investment and more than 1,200 job commitments came to Indiana in the last two years alone.

Turbomachinery Laboratory

South Bend, IN

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