Monday April 24, 2006

Keeping Jobs in Ohio

The electro-optics program has helped a Cincinnati business keep jobs and net more than $10 million in additional contracts.

Ahead of schedule and with one of the smallest Ohio Third Frontier awards, the University of Dayton electro-optics program has helped hit the accelerator for a Cincinnati business and keep jobs in Ohio.

Andrew Sarangan, a UD electro-optics assistant professor, said new infrared camera lens technology developed, in part, from a $773,000 Third Frontier grant saved 10 jobs that "probably would have been shipped elsewhere." It also netted more than $10 million in additional contracts for L-3 Communications Cincinnati Electronics.

"UD's award was among the smallest in Ohio and we've done much more than we expected. This is a three-year project, and we've done it in just more than two years," said Sarangan. "That's not a bad return on investment."

Part of the $773,000 award from 2003 helped build a high-tech lab at UD in which researchers will develop new technology, such as the improved infrared camera lens that will aid firefighting, border patrol, and search and rescue operations.

Sarangan also received another $1.1 million in Third Frontier money in 2004 for expanding this technology into other areas of infrared imaging, including improving the cameras to see better through fog and smoke.

Sarangan anticipates, as the price of this technology comes down, it can be used for night vision capabilities in high-end cars.

"Sometimes university research is not coupled properly with industry needs. In a typical academic environment, researchers develop a technology and then go looking for an industry to accept it, like a solution looking for a problem," Sarangan said. "In this case, our industry partners guided our research with specific goals and a clear commercialization strategy. From day one, we've worked side by side."

The Third Frontier Project, unveiled by Governor Bob Taft in February 2002, is a commitment to build world-class research capacity, support early-stage capital formation and the development of new products and finance advanced manufacturing technologies to help existing industries become more productive.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson at (937) 229-3391.