Wichita State University will be working with the Army’s aviation and missile organization to speed the development and production of new technology through a new, two-year agreement and $1.9 million.
Through WSU’s new FirePoint Innovations Center, WSU researchers and students will work with the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, other universities, Department of Defense researchers and manufacturers to accomplish that work.
FirePoint, said its technical director Paul Jonas, will serve as the bridge between the laboratory and industry, or researching and developing a new product or technology for the Army and moving it to production.
It’s technology “that’s hopefully different from what we have today,” said Jonas, who will split his time between FirePoint and WSU’s National Institute for Aviation Research, where he is its director of special programs.
One of the areas FirePoint will work with the Army on is technologies around future vertical lift, which could include helicopters, tilt-rotor aircraft like the V-280 Valor aircraft Spirit AeroSystems and Bell Helicopter are partnering on, or something completely different from those aircraft, Jonas said.
FirePoint will be housed in the Experiential Engineering building on WSU’s Innovation Campus. It will be led by executive director Pete Perna and will initially hire two student assistants. The Army won’t be limited to the services and staff of those facilities, Jonas said. It will have access to all of WSU’s laboratories and researchers, including NIAR.
The contract came about after WSU responded to an Army request for proposal, Jonas said, and was selected following a competitive process.
Jonas hopes the initial contract will lead to more work with the Army.
“We think this is a tremendous opportunity for the university,” he said. “The other part is this also (is) a bridge to some of the local aviation industry … taking that technology and trying to get it developed.”