This year, Whiting School students and faculty will have an ideal opportunity to work closely with engineers at Northrop Grumman, Inc. through a new collaboration agreement. The partnership will promote graduate fellowships, faculty consulting, research initiatives, senior design projects, and internships.
“The development of formal partnerships with blue-chip companies like Northrop Grumman facilitates a broad range of interactions,” notes Lani Hummel, director of the Whiting School’s Office of Industrial Initiatives. “Our students will be a vital link in the process of establishing strong working relationships between our faculty and Northrop Grumman engineers. Working on site, students will become familiar with the company’s research challenges and help identify collaborative research opportunities.” Hummel also adds that “the experience of Northrop Grumman will be important to students who wish to explore a variety of engineering career options.”
George W. Reynolds, director of Industry and University Initiatives at Northrop Grumman’s Electronic Systems Sector in Baltimore and a member of the Whiting School’s National Advisory Council, agrees that the collaboration is valuable for both partners. “Whiting School students receive the opportunity to work with Northrop Grumman during their time at the university. They have real-world experience in an exciting industry and in a high-technology business environment. In exchange, we have an opportunity to help develop engineers who may become the technical business leaders of tomorrow.”
The partnership began through a series of senior design projects in Mechanical Engineering that addressed questions posed by researchers at Northrop Grumman. For example, how could sensitive electronic equipment be transported affordably and without damaging it from jostling? The solution had to fit on a forklift, be operable by one person, and cost less than $1,500. And the product’s design requirements had to include storage for items of varying size, securely latching doors, and weather-resistancy.
Whiting School seniors created the solution and gave it a name with a great beat: N’SYNCC (Northrop Grumman Shakeless Yet Not Costly Cart). The cart protects equipment even when subjected to forces of 8 to 10 Gs. Its novel design uses foam and carpeting, dampers on the shelving, and a suspension system. Stackable bins, pneumatic tires, and a special forklift mating system completed the cart. And it came in under budget: When purchased in sets of 20, it costs $1,369.02 per cart.
The Northrop Grumman collaboration includes two new graduate fellowships this year, in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering. The Mechanical Engineering collaboration includes faculty consulting, research initiatives, senior design projects, and internships.
“It’s a wonderful investment for us,” says Reynolds. “We develop connections with well-qualified students and create a pipeline of potential employees who have already worked with us as interns. We can consult with top researchers at the Whiting School and have access to their symposia. Through this collaboration, we are leveraging our investment in the future.”
This collaboration differs from previous ad-hoc arrangements, Hummel notes. “We want to be long-term partners with companies,” she emphasizes. “We want to be involved in their research activities and have them involved in ours. The Northrop Grumman agreement is a model for partnerships with other companies.”