Alison Holten has seen the spark of recognition ignite. This, she explains, is why it is so important for CIRAS to work with local partners to carry the capabilities of Iowa State University to the rest of the state.
Holten is the business and community solutions program manager at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in Calmar, and she works closely with rural Iowa industry. In November 2018, 13 people from seven companies attended a joint CIRAS–NICC educational event on “ISU Lab Resources for Manufacturers.” The event, which covered a wide variety of Iowa State’s testing capabilities, was the latest in a regular series of CIRAS technology road shows. (Similar events also have covered ISU capabilities in scanning, 3D printing, and digital design.)
Manufacturers “don’t know that they can use something from CIRAS until they see what’s available,” Holten said. “Then, you can see that light bulb go off, and they realize, ‘Hey, they can help me deal with this problem that’s been bugging me for a long time.’”
Dave Utrata, a CIRAS program manager who works in the Center for Nondestructive Evaluation, joked that Iowa State’s approach with lab resources is the opposite of an “if you build it they will come” philosophy. “You’re not going to have someone drive three hours from a corner of the state when they’re not sure what they’re going to see,” Utrata said. “It makes more sense for us to go to them.”
Nearly 4,000 different companies have come to CIRAS for help over the past five years. Dozens of those relationships were started by CIRAS-led tours of the Iowa State research labs.
For more information, watch the CIRAS event calendar at www.ciras.iastate.edu/events.asp.