Engagement with Industry
The institute has not yet had explicit concrete funding from industry, although there have been numerous industrial interactions, particularly as part of the Physics PhD stream “Industrial Leadership in Physics (ILP)”. One of the Board Members of the ILP is from BASF, and exploratory discussions have been arranged via his contacts in BASF, as yet without firm collaboration.
Professor Dan Blair worked closely with Anton Paar to develop a confocal rheometer. Partly as a result of this interaction, in the summer of 2014, I(SM)2 worked with Anton Paar to host a rheology workshop on Georgetown’s campus. This two-day event (June 5-6) provided lectures on the basics of rheology by Thomas Mezger of Anton Paar, author of The Rheology Handbook.
It also included multiple hands-on sessions using rheometers in the Soft Matter Lab. Anton Paar’s annual Rheology Workshop usually took place at their U.S. Headquarters in Ashland, Virginia. The company dedicated this special event to I(SM)2 as a recognition of our strength in rheological studies of soft matter and our position as a hub for the soft matter research community in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The workshop was well attended by students and postdocs from research groups affiliated with I(SM)2, offering them a unique opportunity to learn or refresh their knowledge on both theory and experimental design. The workshop also provided a platform for I(SM)2 to establish new connections with industrial attendees, although this did not yet lead to firm interactions.
To catalyze interactions with industry, the Institute welcomed Dr Ian Morrison, who has over 35 years of industrial research and development experience, from research scientist to Corporate Fellow; from large corporations (Xerox) to start-ups (E Ink). He has more than 50 US patents, published two textbooks, and taught short courses for 25 years intended for industrial R&D. Dr Morrison brought a suite of soft matter and interface preparation and characterization equipment which forms the Preparation and Evaluation Lab.
I(SM)2 serves to catalyze regional and national collaborations and develop and disseminate tools and principles of soft matter synthesis, protocols for processing, and techniques metrology. Hence, we aim to leverage this position to offer Corporate Partners training and custom applications development with modern synthetic and experimental techniques available, in the newly-outfitted shared equipment facility. We also will deliver lectures and/or short courses on the physics/materials science of soft matter intended for the industrial scientist, at I(SM)2 or at the corporate site.
Infineum has visited the Institute twice, via contacts from Dr Morrison. The first visit established points of contact and potential areas of overlap between Institute research and their needs. A subsequent visit has led to concrete plans for funding, which are currently being negotiated.