Engineering research facility awarded state grant of over $274,000
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced a $274,980 GO Virginia (Growth and Opportunity for Virginia) grant this week for Liberty University’s Center for Engineering Research & Education (CERE) in Bedford County. The grant will help develop an Additive Manufacturing Partnership Lab (AMPL) and is one of three regional awards totaling more than $1.5 million.
“GO Virginia encourages regional collaboration among businesses, government entities, and education partners in support of our shared economic goals,” Northam said in a press release. “To achieve long-term economic growth and create high-paying jobs, we must capitalize on the strengths of our regional economies and connect Virginians with the skills employers are looking for — I’m confident that each of these projects will do just that.”
GO Virginia was passed by the General Assembly in 2016. The initiative was created by Virginia’s senior business leaders to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration by business, education, and government.
The AMPL will include advanced 3D printing capabilities and will be utilized by a number of local businesses and educational institutions for developing products and for training and certification on the latest technology-based processes.
“The AMPL greatly expands our ability to work with industry and academics,” CERE Executive Director Richard Diddams said. “A number of local businesses, STEM academies, and higher education institutions will have access to the equipment for certification, for university design classes, and to benefit industries who need these types of skills and products, whether it is a repair part for a drone or research on a new medical instrument.”
Local industry leaders will utilize the lab space for contracts with NASA and the Department of Energy, among other research and development projects. Liberty University School of Engineering students will be among those who benefit from the hands-on learning opportunities and advanced certification.
In April, CERE was awarded a $300,000 GO Virginia grant to help with the construction of four labs at CERE: a chemical/material lab, an EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) lab, a calibration lab, and a nondestructive testing lab. The new lab will complement those facilities.
In addition to the state grants, CERE has garnered more than $1.5 million in matching funds from private companies who will benefit from the labs, as well as $73,600 of in-kind support for economic development marketing from Bedford County, the Town of Bedford, and the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance. (Liberty is providing more than $100,000 of additional in-kind support.)
Read a related news release from Virginia Tech.