The University of Texas-Pan American Department of Engineering recently received a two-year grant of nearly $600,000 for economic and industrial research.
The $589,216 from the National Science Foundation will be used to fund a new project, "Rapid Product Development in International Production." The goal is to see how products are developed in international production so a set of practices or benchmarks can be developed to help the maquiladora industry handle change.
"Receiving a grant such as this is an honor, a challenge and a big responsibility. It will enhance the presence of UTPA with the industrial base and the engineering academic community," said Dr. Miguel Gonzalez, an engineering professor who helped write the proposal. "Given the prestige of the funding source, the recognition as a recipient of one of these grants is great."
The study establishes a partnership between UTPA, Michigan State University, Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey and several industry partners, including the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, TRW Vehicle Safety Systems, Inc., Automation Tooling Systems, Alcom Automotive, Bissell and GE Engine Services.
The industries will assign tasks and provide support, while the academic partners will make available resources such as faculty, students and facilities. The new project will also benefit UTPA students by allowing them to work with design teams.
Industry partners will serve as mentors and panel members, reviewing design projects and evaluating presentations.
"The students will be provided with internships and job opportunities upon graduation with our partner industries," said Dr. Edwin LeMaster, Department of Engineering chair. "We and the UTPA faculty will learn to work more effectively with multi-institutional projects and rapid product development."
During the process, partners will communicate by teleconferencing and Internet online utilities developed by Michigan State University.
The National Science Foundation, through its Partners for Innovation Program, is an independent U.S. government agency responsible for promoting science and engineering. It invests almost $3.3 billion per year in 20,000 research and education projects.