Case Studies

Case Studies

No man is an island. The same goes for Purdue Engineering. That's why we're actively engaging the corporate community to exchange ideas and technological know-how. See our corporate partners in action.

Better Together

Purdue and Rolls-Royce partner to advance technology and each other.

When Purdue partners with industry, everyone wins: students, faculty, the Indiana and national economies, and global technology.

Control Center: Graduate students from aeronautics and astronautics perform tests from the control room at the Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories.

Our History

Purdue and Rolls-Royce have been involved in some 25 programs throughout the last decade, a partnership that continues today. The partnership is comprehensive and holistic, involving research, internships, seminars, and recruitment and continuing education programs, such as a master's degree program for Rolls-Royce employees. It is a solid and enduring relationship that was cemented by what's called a Master Sponsored Research Agreement-drawn up during the tenure of former Purdue president Martin Jischke-that details recruitment, manufacturing, technology, and faculty relationships.

The largest of the Rolls-Royce programs at Purdue is the High-Mach Propulsion University Technology Center (UTC). Initiated in 2002, it's the first UTC that Rolls-Royce established in the United States; the company has more than 20 in Europe.


"It gives us the opportunity to benefit from funded research activities, invest in a project, gain from the technology advancements, and recruit graduate students coming out of that endeavor," says David Quick, manager of research and development customer requirements for Rolls-Royce, Indianapolis, and the company's liaison for research-related efforts with several universities within the United States.

The partnership offers opportunities for Purdue students and faculty to work directly with industry. Up to 20 graduate students and a number of undergraduates are involved in all phases of research at the UTC, from planning to designing, fabricating, installing, testing, and analyzing results.

UTC Sponsorship

The center takes a multidisciplinary, multi-investigator approach. Researchers from the College of Engineering, the College of Science, the College of Technology, and the Krannert School of Management are teaming together to help Rolls-Royce solve problems related to gas turbine engine thermal management in supersonic and hypersonic flight.

"This is really a flagship research project. It's very large and helps us run a strong research program in the area of propulsion," says Jay Gore, the Vincent P. Reilly Professor of Mechanical Engineering and interim director of the Energy Center.

The High-Mach Propulsion UTC at Purdue's Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories is dedicated to researching jet engine technology for high-speed aircraft that may fly as fast as seven times the speed of sound. The engines could some day be used in the first stage of a vehicle to launch satellites or transport crews to space labs or colonies. They could also be used in high-speed military vehicles, traveling at between 5,000 and 6,000 miles per hour, which could reach any point on earth within two hours, according to Steve Heister, the center's director.

"Universities play an important part in industry research, because they see things that industry often overlooks, and they're at the cutting edge. Universities are a step away from the day-to-day pressures that we get and are good at thinking in a different manner," Quick says.


In addition to the UTC sponsorship, Rolls-Royce and Purdue are involved in several other research areas, including low emissions, noise, turbomachinery, and materials. Purdue's staff of technical experts in these areas enables a competitive edge for Rolls-Royce in the aerospace industry and advances Indiana's position in high-tech aerospace research. Indiana's 21st Century collaborative initiative has provided funding support for some of these joint research activities.

Graduate students Neal Herring (black shirt) and Tim Kibbey (white shirt) set up experiments at the Zucrow High Pressure Laboratory.

Rolls-Royce allies with Purdue in other ways. The company supports Purdue's Science Bound program, which encourages underrepresented high school students to pursue careers in science and engineering. Company executives serve on the advisory committee of the College of Engineering and its Energy Center. Gore calls this presence one that is "worth as much as a multimillion-dollar's invaluable."

Beyond Research

The company also sponsors the Charles Rolls & Henry Royce Purdue Memorial Lecture Series, a biannual lecture that brings eminent speakers to the Purdue campus. "This creates an environment for innovation. The students get to meet with the speaker. It is an outstanding opportunity for students heading into careers in aeronautics and astronautics," says Gore. Question and answer sessions following the lectures run up to 90 minutes in length."

All told, the breadth of cooperation between Purdue and Rolls-Royce has become a model for industry, according to Quick, who says that other companies have tried to emulate the UTC. "This partnership is considered best practice," he says.