Ohio Federal Research Network visits the Valley




The Ohio Federal Research Network wants to connect industry with universities to keep the state’s companies competitive.

Network representatives came to the Youngstown Business Incubator offices Thursday to discuss the funding it provides to applied research projects to make this happen.

“It really is competitive,” said Dennis Andersh, network program executive. “This is different than basic research grants. This is applied research.”

Applied research is taking an invention and finding an application for it, Andersh explained.

OFRN connected the state’s four federal research laboratories – Air Force Research Laboratory, NASA Glenn Research Center, National Air and Space Intelligence Center and the Naval Medical Research Unit – with universities to develop areas of technical excellence that can be strengthened.

The areas of focus are human performance and health services; power and propulsion; materials and manufacturing; energy storage/integration; command, control, communications computing intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance; and advanced communications and precision navigation and timing. The projects that receive funding fall under those focus areas.

The projects must also have a federal partner and be connected with a university.

There have been two rounds of project review and funds awarded by the network, which was started two years ago. More than $15 million has been released for 18 projects funded throughout the state.

Network funding – $25 million to date – was received from the state. Andersh said the goal is to also receive federal dollars for these projects. In the fall, there will be another round of project review.

Locally, Youngstown State University is a part of an OFRN-funded project for high-temperature magnetic materials.

Virgil C. Solomon, associated professor in YSU’s Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, has a graduate student working to develop magnets with a 3-D printer for a variety of applications.

To make the magnets, a powder created by the University of Toledo is used. One of the goals is to make the magnets smaller so there’s less energy consumption.

“The challenge is to make the part with the magnetic properties that is required for each [application],” Solomon said.

Working with industry is in YSU’s history, Solomon told those in attendance at the meeting.

“In order to be competitive, we have to have state-of-the-art technology,” Solomon said.

For information on OFRN, go to ohiofrn.org.

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