Second Industry Open House Brings Academia and Industry Together

The second annual Industry Open House took place this month and brought together Engineering faculty and industry leaders to discuss future collaborations.

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Deb Santy, director of strategic innovations for Connecticut Innovations, said at the start of the event that she hoped the Industry Open House would produce some ideas that “10 years from now, we can say, ‘It started on this day, and it changed the world.”

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Deb Santy, Director of Strategic Innovations for Connecticut Innovations

“I’ve been at this job for 10 years, and for 10 years, I’ve been hoping to see this kind of enthusiasm and collaboration between government, industry and academia,” she said. “When you walk through this campus, it’s incredibly energizing –  its knowledge, its passion, its innovation, its fun and laughter. The learning, the knowledge, and what’s going on here is amazing. And yet, if it doesn’t get to you and me, it’s really just research. But when industry gets involved, then it becomes something we can all share.”

She added that with industry and academia coming together, “I really do think that Connecticut and everyone in this room can actually make a difference in the world. I truly believe that.”

Building off the success of last year’s event, the Industry Open House included not only an open networking/show-and-tell poster portion, but also the opportunity for one-on-one meetings with more than 60 engineering faculty innovators. The 10-minute “speed dates” provided an opportunity for both sides to learn more about new technology developments underway in faculty labs, and the ways industry can benefit from partnering with UConn researchers.

Michael Accorsi, associate dean for the School of Engineering, said the key to innovation is cooperation among academia, industry and the government.

“It’s very clear that this kind of partnership that leads to innovation is alive and well in Connecticut,” he said. “From UConn, I’d just like to say that within the School of Engineering, we welcome partnerships with industry. We want you to feel that the School is a resource to companies in the state and we welcome you to actively engage us.”

Al Shigo of Continental Resources in Bedford Ma. said one of his speed dates was with Dr. Ali Bazzi of the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. They spoke about the possibility of his company supplying lab equipment. Shigo said this year was the first time he has taken part, and that he plans to come back next year.

Rainer Hebert, Director of Additive Manufacturing Innovation Center, had a busy day with 14 speed dates. He said the meetings with industry representatives are sometimes productive in ways he hadn’t imagined, “because you never know what applications or opportunities there are” for the technologies.

“And sometimes we connect with people we’ve already worked with, and this is a good venue to take something to the next step,” he said.

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