The Printed Electronics Research Collaborative at UMass Lowell brings together university researchers with companies and government agencies to grow the emerging field. Here, Craig Armiento (left) works with graduate student Kyle Homan. Credit: Joson Images for UMass Lowell American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 95, No. 3 | www.ceramics.org 33 Credit: Sue Potter; University of Massachusetts Lowell How does RURI identify and assess potential research projects? RURI is a corporate–academic research partnership directed at developing additive approaches to manufacturing electronics. The result of this technology will be to use computer-aided design-driven processes for fast prototyping of electronic systems as well as the ability to manufacture electronics in a different form factor than today’s rigid circuit boards. Printed electronic systems can be flexible, conformal, wearable, and embedded in 3-D objects. Through RURI, Raytheon and UMass Lowell researchers work collaboratively to define projects that leverage advanced additive manufacturing of electronics for use in Raytheon systems. RURI’s technology focus is on applications operating at radio frequency (rf) or microwave frequencies. Applications include next-generation radar systems that are flexible, lightweight, and low cost. One example is printed antennas that are integrated into mechanical objects, such as cell phones or cars (e.g., collision-avoidance radars), or advanced rf identification (rfID) systems (e.g., asset monitoring). Such systems require integration of printed antennas, passive components, and semiconductor integrated circuits. Both organizations are actively involved in developing the ecosystem for printed electronics, including new materials, printing equipment, microwave measurement, and advanced additive manufacturing design approaches. An additional UMass Lowell organization called the Printed Electronics Research Collaborative (PERC) coordinates efforts to develop this printed electronics ecosystem. PERC members include UMass Lowell, Raytheon, and seven other companies. Part of the value of PERC is to create teaming arrangements to pursue federal funding. These arrangements can provide smaller material or component manufacturers the ability to partner with larger companies, such as Raytheon, that have system expertise. In a sense, PERC serves to develop companies that represent the printed electronics supply chain for bigger system integrators like Raytheon. More details about PERC can be found at uml.edu/perc. What does RURI foster that neither UMass Lowell nor Raytheon can accomplish on its own? The value of RURI to Raytheon is threefold. First and foremost, Raytheon can extend its R&D capabilities into the new area of printed electronics without significant up-front investment in staff and laboratory infrastructure. In this regard, Raytheon can leverage technical expertise and laboratory facilities at the university through RURI. The partnership between Raytheon and UMass Lowell is more interconnected than most university–corporate relationships. Our model is based on colocation of Raytheon researchers with faculty and students—for example, Raytheon researchers have offices in the RURI facility. Because there are many Raytheon facilities within a half-hour drive from the university, Raytheon researchers and engineers can conveniently work on projects at the RURI facility. These close interactions are essential to the RURI mission. The second value of RURI for Raytheon is the ability to influence development of UMass Lowell students, creating a talent pipeline for future hires. The close interaction of Raytheon personnel with students already has resulted in internships and permanent job offers. The third value of this partnership is the opportunity to develop The Mark and Elisia Saab Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
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