USM and GE team up

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi, General Electric Aviation, and Governor Haley Barbour announced a collaborative research project Monday.

Over $2 million is being poured into the development of advanced materials for the GEnx engine.

"We take pride in doing relevant research and that is research that doesn't cook in a lab for two or three generations before anybody can use it," said Martha Saunders, president of USM.

About 15-20 students and faculty members will work closely with GE's plant in Batesville.

The GEnx engine is the only jet engine with composite fan blades, platforms, and cases that will go on the Boeing 787 and 747-8 aircraft.

Barbour said this research project is the type of work is what USM is known for.

"The polymer institute at USM is known for its research in composites, so it's a real marriage for the university and for the state," said Barbour.

General Electric Aviation Manager Jerry Kroger said the company has grown with the help of state universities and their research.

"We need a cooperation on a lot of research, so we can either do the research ourselves or we can work with the universities to do the research," said Kroger. "By teaming with different universities in Mississippi we feel like we have a win - win situation."

Kroger also said the research project will give students hands on experience and the chance to get their foot in the door for a job.

"We think we can also help get connections with students who can understand what we do, and that could mean jobs for the students who could be employees for us."