Emerson Innovation Center provides new opportunities for students

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By: Roger Hoke – Staff Writer

Graduate engineering students will be able to gain experience from the new Emerson Innovation Center, or The Helix, which broke ground Oct. 17 on the corner of Main and Stewart Streets.

According to the University of Dayton website, The Helix will be 40,000 square feet and will hire between 30 to 50 people.

The real innovation the new facility is promoting is the opportunity it will bring to UD students, especially graduate engineering students.

“The Emerson Innovation Center is for [Emerson Climate Technologies] to do research on advanced high volume air conditioners and refrigeration,” John Weber, the associate dean of graduate studies for the school of engineering said.

According to Weber, graduate students from UD will staff the EIC, but not solely.

“It is their operation, and we will support it with graduate students, which will provide educational opportunities for their folks and our students,” Weber said.

It does not end there, as there are plans to create other opportunities for students to learn and benefit from the center being built in such close proximity to campus.

“We have talked about putting in a couple of courses that would be more tailored to the kinds of things that they’re doing in the facility that would allow them to provide educational opportunities to their employees that would be much more inclined with what they do,” Weber said.

Students can work for the company, be educated by the operations taking place there or learn about the technology for future jobs at other companies.

“It is a facility that Emerson will staff with some of their research people to work on different aspects for what they want to do for the future with air conditioning and refrigeration,” Weber said.

Aside from graduate engineering students, opportunities could be made available for members of the sustainability club and those wanting to learn more about sustainability in general.

“There may be some tie-ins with the sustainability group on campus,” Weber said.

“One of the things they’re working on is using different refrigeration fluids,” Weber said, emphasizing the sustainability of The Helix. “They’re looking at using fluids that when released, will not harm the environment, so that is another tie-in.”

As for the possibility of undergraduates having a chance to learn from or work at the EIC, Weber said there is always a chance.

“We’ve talked about some of the selection with the school for projects that may go on there,” Weber said. “There is always possibilities, but I don’t think we’re far enough along yet.”

The operation is still young, but it promises to bring additional chances for success to students.

“The proximity is great for students to co-op and graduate students to do research,” Weber said. “Whatever happens, it will evolve.”

According to the UD website, the plant will be operational by the end of 2015, but Weber said work will not begin until early 2016.

“They broke ground this month, and they are planning to move in at the start of 2016,” Weber said.

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