CCAM research facility opens in Prince George
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Mar 28, 2013, 11:43
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Paul Harney, architect at Perkins and Will, tries out one of the technologies at CCAM, a 3D modeling machine that allows researchers to go and see all angles of their designs.
The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing cut the ribbon to its new 62,000-square-foot facility on Monday morning in Prince George County. The public-private research facility, the first of its kind in the United States, aims to improve the research processes in the fields of surface engineering and advanced manufacturing.
The facility opened in 2012, just four years after the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe aerospace facility where it is located. CCAM features research labs, high bay production space for commercial-scale equipment, and tools needed for research.
With giant scissors in hand, Gov. Bob McDonnell helped cut the ribbon to the new facility Monday, noting that just two years ago he was there for the groundbreaking. McDonnell said facilities such as CCAM are vital to the success of economic development in the United States.
“There is a battle in the global marketplace for ideas and for products and for processes, and those states and entities that are able to show a comprehensive vision for how these things are going to merge under one roof are going to create jobs and opportunities and advance the case for human knowledge,” McDonnell said. “And these are the ones that are going to be successful and I think that’s what CCAM is all about, and we’re delighted to have it here in Prince George County.”
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Gov. Bob McDonnell, center, Dr. Michael Beffel, CCAM interim president and executive director, left, and Armand Lauzon Jr., chairman of the board, after cutting the ribbon at the grand opening ceremony.
CCAM is partnering with 15 member companies, such as Canon, Siemens and Rolls-Royce, as well as three universities, Virginia State University, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.
“This is what makes this such a unique and wonderful partnership is taking world-class minds in our universities and putting them together with world-class innovators and coming up with world-class processes and products,” McDonnell said. “That is the magic of CCAM.”
Armand Lauzon Jr., CCAM’s chairman of the board, said the new facility has a very defined and a “very simple” approach to the challenge that currently exists in the U.S.
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Gov. Bob McDonnell speaks to the crowd gathered at the CCAM grand opening ceremony on Monday morning. McDonnell said he was delighted to see the tangible vision of CCAM come together.
“And that is to return this country to advanced manufacturing jobs in the U.S.,” Lauzon said. He said one of the ways to accomplish that challenge is to strengthen the K-12 curriculum.
“It bridges the gap between research and commercialization and influences K-12 curriculum with meaningful, real examples that we can take to these kids and show them why it’s important to study the maths and the sciences.”
Prince George County Administrator Percy Ashcraft echoed the need for a focus on education to shift now that CCAM has come to the county.
“Right now our region does not meet the workforce demands that these facilities present to us and we have an education challenge to make that happen,” Ashcraft said. “And it starts with high school freshman and sophomores and getting them excited with the curriculum.”
Two of the focuses at CCAM, which is currently working with 12 interns from the three universities, involve classroom lessons of surface engineering and manufacturing systems.
Surface engineering is the study of the surface of an object, such as an engine block that was being worked on and tested the day of the opening, and determining the best coating for that product. That coating determines the properties the object will have.
To aid in such processes, CCAM has state-of-the-art technology that was available for the public to see in action on Monday.
In one lab, the test visualization lab, engineers can manipulate a 3-D model of a design by using sensory head gear and their body’s movements.
The other focus at CCAM is on manufacturing systems research. This research aims at reducing the amount of time it takes to get a product on shelves in stores around the country. CCAM uses integrated data acquisition systems, coordinate measurement machines and Siemens product lifecycle management software to help in this field of research.
“What all this equipment and technology means is that this facility is a perfect incubator for new technology solutions and will act as a real-world environment for the engineering students supporting and contributing to the research agenda making them valuable assets in a real world job market,” said Dr. Michael Beffel, interim president and executive director of CCAM.
Beffel noted that the facility is already working on 15 projects in surface engineering and advanced manufacturing.
“Research this year got under way on several directed projects that transformed CCAM from being an interesting idea into a fully functioning research and development center,” Beffel said.
Even with the ribbon freshly cut, industry leaders in CCAM are already looking to the future of the facility. Lazon laid out the five-year plan for CCAM during the opening ceremony on Monday. He said the facility wants to bring on 50 researchers, 35 graduate research partners, generate 30 industrial members and develop an ongoing $20 million annual research budget.
“It’s apparent the membership will enhance and grow as the research agenda continues,” Lazon said.
It is that growth that Del. Riley Ingram, R-62, said makes the opening ceremony of CCAM so exciting for not only Prince George County, but for the entire Tri-City area.
“The spin-off of this is going to be unbelievable and it’s going to create jobs and I just thank everyone that had a part in it.”
Ingram said the facility will create a lot of jobs in the area for residents all over the region. He said this creates more of a tax base and it means more money for families in the area.
Ashcraft said the opening of CCAM sends a message to residents all over. He said it means that international development is located in Prince George, where he said the future ideas will emerge.
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Even during the grand opening ceremony, researchers are already working with a precision measuring machine, which was inspecting an engine block.
“Many of the future ideas that will come from this facility will have a real-world impact and not every community, not only throughout the commonwealth but throughout the U.S., can say that and that’s why it’s almost overwhelming to think the future technology that’s going to come out of this facility and the future growth that it will not only leave to the future companies, future partnerships,” he said.