WPI and NUWC Sign Education Partnership Agreement

New Relationship to Provide Academic Projects for Students, and Promote Commercialization of Navy Research

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5706
or NUWC Media Relations, 401-832-3611

William W. Durgin, WPI associate provost for academic affairs and vice president for research, and Captain John C. Mickey, NUWC Division Newport commander, exchange papers during the signing ceremony.

WORCESTER, Mass. - February 12, 2004 - The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have entered into an Education Partnership Agreement for science and engineering related to biomedical technology, acoustics and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

Under the agreement signed today by Rear Admiral William G. Timme, commander of NUWC, and William W. Durgin, WPI associate provost for academic affairs and vice president for research, WPI students in science, mathematics, engineering and computer science can earn academic credit for work on defense laboratory research projects with NUWC scientists and engineers at the Division Newport facilities. This student work will be in the form of graduate-level research, undergraduate academic projects and internships.

In addition, WPI and its Bioengineering Institute (BEI) will assist NUWC in leveraging its scientific and technological resources in applying them to biomedical applications, human physiology and medical device research and development. These activities will promote the commercialization of Navy research and technology into the private sector. Equipment may also be loaned to WPI by NUWC, and excess equipment may be donated to the university.

"A significant portion of the research work NUWC does in support of the Navy can be transferable to civilian applications," said Theresa Baus, Ph.D., technology transfer coordinator at NUWC. "For example, acoustic technology developed for anti-submarine warfare has proven to be adaptable for the screening and diagnosis of various ailments."

NUWC's contributions to this partnership will help encourage student interest in these scientific and technical areas, and may benefit the laboratory in terms of advance training of future employees, which may further benefit the country by exposing students to career opportunities in government research and development.

"This partnership is a great opportunity for our students to have access to the resources of an outstanding government research laboratory, and to open career opportunities for our graduates," said Durgin. "Our students will be able to participate in ongoing research and development projects that are important to the Navy and our country."

Much of the WPI student work will be undergraduate senior capstone projects (known on campus as Major Qualifying Projects), which require students to use the skills, methods and knowledge of their major discipline to solve a significant professional-level problem or master a cutting-edge research challenge. These are rigorous academic exercises that are overseen by a faculty advisor and count as a full term's academic credit. At the end of every project, students prepare a report and deliver a presentation of their findings.

At the graduate level, WPI students and their research advisors will participate in ongoing Navy research initiatives.

This educational partnership agreement was facilitated by the WPI Bioengineering Institute, which focuses on applied research and product development to create bioengineered products such as medical devices.

"Defense laboratories like NUWC are a great source of untapped research and development," added Timothy R. Gerrity, Ph.D., director of the WPI Bioengineering Institute. "By working together with WPI's applied researchers and BEI's resources for commercializing new technology, there is an exciting potential for NUWC research discoveries to evolve into new products and new companies that make those products in the region."

About the Naval Undersea Warfare Center

The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), with headquarters in Newport, R.I., is the Navy's full-spectrum research, development, test and evaluation, engineering, and fleet support center for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, and offensive and defensive weapons systems associated with undersea warfare.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865, WPI is a pioneer in technological higher education. WPI was the first university to understand that students learn best when they have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom to the solution of important problems. Today, its first-rate research laboratories support master's and Ph.D. programs in more than 30 disciplines in engineering, science and the management of technology.