COLUMBIA, S.C. — Boeing and the University of South Carolina have announced a long-term research agreement that its leaders said will produce new and innovative technologies for the aerospace industry as well as the engineers to foster them.
University President Harris Pastides and Boeing Chief Technology Officer John Tracy made the announcement Thursday at the school’s McNair Center for aerospace research in Columbia.
Boeing, which is the world’s largest aerospace company, is expected to invest up to $5 million over the life of the agreement. The money should pay for up to two dozen research projects that are expected to improve Boeing’s products, the officials said.
The projects will focus on such things as new ways to use carbon fiber composite materials, finding improved techniques for fusing aircraft parts, and improving the efficiency of structures through automated manufacturing.
Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace firm. Its workers assemble the company’s 787 Dreamliner aircraft at its 740-acre facility in North Charleston. About 6,000 people are employed at the complex. It also opened a research center in North Charleston that focuses on composite fuselage and propulsion production.
The McNair Center is named in honor of the late space shuttle Challenger astronaut Ronald McNair, a South Carolina native killed in the 1986 explosion of the spacecraft. Nearly 30 USC faculty members contribute to research projects at the center.
“This partnership with Boeing puts the University of South Carolina on the forefront of research that will lead to exciting new discoveries in the aerospace field,” Pastides said in remarks prepared for the event.
Pastides said he thinks the partnership will help transform South Carolina’s economy.
“Together with Boeing, the McNair Center will work not only to innovate, but also educate future aerospace engineers and makes South Carolina a choice destination for the aerospace industry,” the president said.
Tracy said Boeing hopes the partnership “will help ensure Boeing can incorporate innovative technologies that will make our products even more capable, our workplaces even more productive and our company even stronger.”
University officials said the McNair Center includes a production-level automated fiber placement machine, which allows for the testing of new materials and designs for industry partners. Last year, the center announced a multiyear research contract with the Dutch-based Fokker Technologies.