A program at the University of South Carolina Aiken is providing a pathway for area scientists and engineers to collaborate with university faculty and students on research projects impacting industry, workforce development, and facilities in the region.
The Research Affiliate Program offered through the university's College of Sciences and Engineering provides area active and retired scientists and engineers enhanced access to university facilities, laboratory space, equipment, and collaborative opportunities to work with USC Aiken faculty and students.
According to Dr. Scott McKay, dean of the College of Sciences and Engineering, the Research Affiliate Program's purpose is to provide an alternative workspace for area scientists and engineers who may be active or retired to work on applied research projects and provide experienced mentoring to the next generation of professionals. Given the university's proximity to Savannah River National Laboratory and other Department of Energy facilities, SRNS/SRNL previously provided funding to support research affiliates who are retirees of SRNL.
"There is a wealth of active and retired science and engineering talent in our community," McKay said. "We hope to host many research affiliates in the future to enhance applied research deliverables and provide access to experienced mentors for USC Aiken students."
Dr. Ragaiy Zidan, a physicist and Chief Technology Officer for FuelIX Innovation Inc., has recently joined USC Aiken as an affiliate. A former advisory scientist for the Savannah River National Laboratory, Zidan has been collaborating with the university's Chemistry Department since his time at SRNL.
"It is a win-win, the students benefit from learning how their academic colloquium translates into real products, and the program helps them prepare to become part of an industrial team in the future," Zaidy said. "Industry and companies like our benefit from having young minds and establishing a creative team atmosphere."
"Ultimately, we hope to add an addition to the Science Building that will house the External Collaborative Applied Research Center ("ECARC") where a multitude of research affiliates, faculty, and students can work on projects together," McKay said. "The research affiliates will be integral as USC Aiken builds additional infrastructure such as the ECARC, prototype and 3D printing center, and makerspace/machine shop to support Pacer academics, industry, and the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative ("AMC")."