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GE, Southern Miss to collaborate

BATESVILLE AND HATTIESBURG — Gov. Haley Barbour and officials from GE Aviation have announced a unique research collaboration with the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) for technology and advanced material development in the company’s Composites Operation in Batesville.

GE’s partnership with the USM School of Polymers and High Performance Materials is focused on the development of advanced materials (composites development processing) for the GEnx engine. The world’s only jet engine with composite fan blades, fan platforms and fan case, the GEnx engine will power the Boeing 787 and 747-8 aircraft.

The collaboration is supported with a grant of approximately $2.4 million from the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA).

“GE’s relationship with Mississippi leaders and the state’s university system has been outstanding,” said David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. “Simply put, we are teaming on unique technologies that ultimately impact future air travel.”

Three Southern Miss graduate students already have completed internships at GE’s Global Research Center in New York as part of the university-industry partnership. In all, about 15-20 students and faculty will be involved in the one-year project. Funds from the MDA grant will be used for research infrastructure.

GE Aviation celebrated the opening of the Batesville facility, its newest greenfield facility, in October 2008 and anticipates expanding the workforce to more than 100 people. The 300,000-square-foot facility produces and assembles advanced composite engine components, which are unique to the aviation industry.

The facility is currently in production of its first two GEnx product lines, fan platforms, installed between the engine’s front fan blades, and the assembly of the fan stator unit, a large circular structure that encases the front fan.

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