Aerospace engine manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce will expand its already large footprint at Purdue, thanks to a new commitment among the university, the Purdue Research Foundation and the company.
The enhanced partnership, announced Monday (Aug. 2), calls for Rolls-Royce to further expand its facilities in the Purdue Aerospace District, which is adjacent to the university. The new test facilities will be used to develop high-altitude and hybrid-electric engines to power the next generation of U.S. military aircraft. Rolls-Royce West Lafayette will be developed through a multimillion-dollar investment from the research foundation, Purdue University and Rolls-Royce North America.
The partnership is a major win for the national security and technology pillar of Purdue’s Next Moves, announced by President Mitch Daniels and Purdue trustees in April.
“Purdue is delivering new, one-of-a-kind facilities that are national assets and will further differentiate the university as a state and national leader in securing and defending our country,” Daniels said. “With this vital partnership and support from our good friends at Rolls-Royce and others, we continue to expand our role as the economic engine for this region of Indiana and beyond.”
Rolls-Royce already has facilities focusing on digital engine controls and conducts advanced technology engine research at Purdue's Zucrow Laboratories in the district. It’s part of a longstanding partnership between the company and university spanning several decades of conducting aerospace research. The company also employs hundreds of Purdue engineers.
The facility will enable Rolls-Royce North America to continue its legacy of providing full-service advanced design, development, production and aftermarket support of world-leading propulsion solutions.
Tom Bell, chairman and CEO of Rolls-Royce North America, said, “Rolls-Royce has a proud history of supporting our U.S. military and commercial customers, and this new significant investment will continue to grow our capability to serve our customers. This reflects yet another major investment in Indiana, and we are also planning significant upgrades to test facilities at our Indianapolis manufacturing campus, which has benefited from a recently completed $600 million modernization program to grow advanced manufacturing and technology capability. We thank both local and state governments for their ongoing support.”
Mung Chiang, Purdue’s executive vice president for strategic initiatives and the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering, said testing to be conducted by Rolls-Royce will substantially advance national security.
"Today’s announcement is pivotal for two reasons," Chiang said. "It represents the largest single economic development success to our neighborhood with Rolls-Royce colleagues and the largest research collaboration with a private-sector partner. It also advances the excellence at scale by Purdue in creating the epicenter of aerospace engineering R&D in the U.S."
Theresa Mayer, Purdue University executive vice president for research and partnerships, said, “We look forward to having deeper engagement with Rolls-Royce as part of Purdue’s rapidly growing defense research and technology ecosystem. The researchers working in these facilities will be able to leverage the deep expertise of our faculty and staff, as well as our new and existing facilities for research, design, testing and evaluation.”
Brian Edelman, Purdue Research Foundation president, said the investment fits PRF's goal to advance the mission of Purdue University.
"The foundation supports President Daniels' vision to establish the university as a leader among institutes of higher education in the realm of national security," Edelman said. "The investment to expand Rolls-Royce's presence in the Purdue Aerospace District is a strategic one that will make the vision become a reality, and lead to more actions in the same initiative. The generous support from Lafayette, Greater Lafayette Commerce, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County provides another example of the strong ecosystem we are building with community, university and corporate partners.”