The jet engine company, Rolls Royce, is making good on its promise to open two, new, state of the art, aerodynamics research centers at Universities in the commonwealth.
Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia will be home to the new research and development facilities designing the next generation of aircraft engines for Rolls Royce. It’s the culmination of an ongoing research relationship with the British company, which has its North American headquarters in Reston, Virginia. Rolls Royce has dozens of research centers like this around the world but just one in the U.S. until now. “So it’s quite an honor to be able to have an op to work closely with Rolls Royce to do comprehensive research and technology development for them," said Jack Lesko, Associate Dean in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. "And for our students to get an op to engage in projects they’ll actually be able to see flying.” The research institute at UVA will focus on material systems. The one at Tech will work on diagnostics. “In fact we’ll have one of the Rolls Royce engines at our test facility where we’ll be able to run specific tests and do specific diagnostics on that engine. And in fact that engine is on many of the regional jets that fly out of the Roanoke airport," said Lesko. The engines developed at the centers will also be used in corporate and military jets. Rolls Royce officials did not have an exact figure but say it’s part of a multi-million dollar investment in Virginia facilities for technology that will be adopted worldwide. Company officials say no dedicated state funding has gone toward the project. Professor Lesko says this kind of external research funding helps support much of the university’s research. "At Virginia Tech College of engineering, about half the funds the college expends each year come from external research. “We are basically a net exporter of technology from the University. So those research dollars are important to our scholars and the education of our students.” The new aerodynamics research institutes UVA and Virginia Tech are two of only three in the U.S. The other one is at Purdue University in Indiana.