Connecting New Hampshire's aerospace and defense industry with UNH research expertise

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Researchers and aerospace industry representatives at UNH

UNH’s first-ever Aerospace and Defense Technology Day on Nov. 4 was part open house, part show-and-tell, part speed dating — and, according to the organizers, full success.

The day brought 70 aerospace and defense industry representatives to meet with dozens of UNH faculty whose research aligns with their businesses. Activities included a research “sandpit” — a highly interactive meet-and-greet session — as well as an expo of UNH research centers and business resources.

“We received wonderful feedback from both faculty and industry attendees about connections they made throughout the day that will hopefully lead to new partnerships,” says Ellen Christo, director of strategic partnerships with UNHInnovation, which hosted the event. “I kept hearing ‘Wow, I had no idea UNH had this.’”

With Christo chiming a bell every few minutes, UNH researchers and industry representatives met and mingled, then moved on, speed-dating style, for maximum interaction and networking. Later, participants toured UNH facilities like the University Instrumentation Center in Parsons, the Center for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Innovation labs in Kingsbury and space science labs in Morse, as well as UNH’s Cray supercomputer.

The organizers were surprised to learn that nearly 350 companies in New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts self-identify as being in the aerospace and defense industry, comprising a critical component of New Hampshire’s economy. “If you had told me two months ago there were 50, I would have been impressed,” says Marc Sedam, UNHInnovation managing director and associate vice provost of innovation and new ventures.

Tapping UNH’s significant expertise in those fields, says Christo, “We wanted to create closer connections with UNH research and the local and regional business community and decided to start with this industry.”

Looking forward, Christo and her colleagues plan to host similar industry-researcher networking events focused on other areas of UNH; data, drones and agriculture are all possibilities.

Inspired in part by the other Durham, Christo points to the university-industry partnerships that have made North Carolina’s Research Triangle a nexus of technological development. “Our goal is to help lead new partnerships between the university and the business community, ultimately to encourage economic development,” she says. “The more industry gets involved in the university and leverages our research capabilities, the more we can do research to help their businesses and train the future workforce. It’s a full circle.”

Chelsey DiGiuseppe | UNHInnovation