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How Oklahoma State University leverages its research to drive economic development

OSU Research Matters is a bi-weekly look inside the work of Oklahoma State University faculty, staff and students.

Research is a key component to Oklahoma State University’s land grant mission.

In this episode, Dr. Kenneth Sewell — the school's Vice President of Research — talks with Senior VP of Operations, Zach Miles and Senior Associate VP for Technology and Economic Development Jerome Loughridge about how universities (with emphasis on OSU) leverage their facilities, personnel, students, tools, and resources to drive economic development and diversification across the globe. From unique assets available on campus to providing real-world opportunities for students, universities form the basis for many successful economies around the world.


LOUGHRIDGE: Land grant universities, of which Oklahoma State University is one, have a very distinctive and richly historical calling. And that is not merely that we teach, which we do well, that we conduct research, which is critically important for advancing new knowledge, but also that we engage with society in a very particular way.

MILES: Students get an opportunity with these industry engagements to have real-world applications of their academic learning. Which makes it so much more valuable to them to see what they've learned [and] applied. And certainly for our industry partners -- to be able to work with students who are potential or future employees and see where their passions lie, how they engage -- helps to continue to accelerate that workforce pipeline and be able for OSU to lead, putting out students [and] graduates that are more valuable for the workforce, they're happier in their positions and turning out the next set of employers, not just employees and setting up companies and, and building businesses.

SEWELL: Is there one signature project that each of you have that maybe you could share with our audience how OSU is engaging with the private sector?

LOUGHRIDGE: Sure. There's one hallmark, and that's the Hamm Institute for American Energy. This was made possible by a generous contribution by Harold Hamm, one of our Oklahoma-based energy entrepreneurs. By virtue of his generosity and the participation of Continental [Resources], we were able to take what was the former gift of the magnificent world-class facility here in Oklahoma City, east of downtown, the former Baker Hughes building. Both a remarkable office complex, but even more importantly, home to a real state-of-the-art research facility on the bottom floor, inclusive of two actual functional wells, oil and gas style drilled and completed wells where industry researchers and students can converge around real-world application of the type that Zach referred to inside a research setting. Well, what that permits us to do is in ways never before possible is engagement with the energy sector broadly construed to advance new innovations using a facility that is on par with the very best anywhere in the world.

MILES: The Hamm Institute is in Oklahoma City. I'll take Tulsa and working directly with them and OSU’s researchers and advanced mobility, really trying to work to turn Oklahoma as a destination state and specifically Oklahoma State University at the center of that for advanced mobility.

So, not only aerial vehicles, but road vehicles, even maybe looking at submarines, but that's an exciting project to see not only our researchers and students involved, but working with the municipality to try to create a destination location for that. So I'm really excited about that potential, that Tulsa Innovation Labs and individuals that are in Tulsa leadership to be able to stand that up here in the next little bit.

SEWELL: For OSU Research Matters, I’m Vice President of Research, Kenneth Sewell.

Dr. Sewell, Jerome Loughridge and Zach Miles will be speaking more in depth on how OSU leverages their research and facilities at 'Research On Tap' — Monday, March 21 at Iron Monk Brewery in Stillwater. The informal discussion is open to the public and starts at 5:30 p.m.

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