How does a project work?
The TDC assembles a team of faculty, staff and students for each project to include the combination of skills and expertise needed to help address your specific needs and provides other resources such as specialized instrumentation or laboratory facilities.
In general we do not perform routine quality control testing or production monitoring, perform measurements for purposes of regulatory compliance, or duplicate services already available from commercial providers in our region.
What types of projects do you accept to the TDC?
The TDC will accept proposals in the technical fields that can utilize the lab facility, equipment and WWU expertise and skills. The types of projects include but are not limited to: proof-of-concept, prototyping, testing, process development, and small-scale production.
Target industry sectors in NW Washington have been identified that correlate with areas where WWU has strong expertise. Special attention will be paid to marine, transportation and related industries, and advanced manufacturing companies seeking services that fit with existing TDC capabilities:
- Vehicle design, advanced materials and composites (Marine and transportation)
- Industrial design, proto-type development (Industrial design and advanced manufacturing)
- Energy resources (e.g. solar, biomass, geothermal)
Since a primary mission of the TDC is to educate students and advance knowledge and understanding, meaningful student involvement and the potential for significant scientific or engineering developments are important criteria in project selection. Projects provide valuable experiences to undergraduate and graduate students, helping them improve their technical and professional skills while working to solve real-world problems.
How much will my project cost?
Project fees are based on facility and equipment usage, and personnel time. For short-term projects that do not require on-going use of TDC floor space, there is an hourly charge for use of equipment and student and/or staff labor. The private sector partner is responsible for providing all materials and supplies. Total costs for short-term projects range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on the size and scope of the project.
For longer-term projects that require on-going use of TDC floor space, there is a monthly usage fee for access to the TDC lab area and basic equipment. The fee is based on square footage requirements for the project in the lab and office areas. A user will incur additional charges for the use of certain specialized equipment (e.g. CNC router) and student or staff labor. In some cases, student participation in projects will be in the form of a senior project in which they receive course credit in lieu of wages. Total costs for long-term projects range upward from a starting point of a few thousand dollars. In many cases, these projects are partially or fully funded by external research and development grants.
Usage fees will be clearly identified via the standard University contracting process. It is expected that faculty and staff consulting charges be negotiated with, and paid directly to faculty or staff. Student interns may work for credit or receive pay at an hourly rate in which case the company pays the student directly. If projects are incorporated into a grant project managed by the WWU Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, indirect costs will apply at the on-campus rate for the salaries and wages. Project costs are discussed early in the project intake process.
Can staff from my company use TDC equipment themselves?
Company personnel use of TDC equipment is possible on long-term projects after they have been trained and qualified to use the equipment.
How fast can my company be up and running at the TDC?
The time needed for project approval and start-up depends on the scope and size of the project, how well defined the technical problem is, and the availability of resources required for project completion. For short-term projects, the time needed for projects to be up and running can be as short as 1-2 weeks, while a month or longer is typically required for start-up of long-term projects. Our goal is to let you know as soon as possible after the initial project review whether the project is suitable for the TDC (we may refer you to a more appropriate resource) and the anticipated timeline for project start-up.
How long will it take to complete my project?
It depends on the scope and complexity of your project, with completion times ranging from a few days for short-term projects (e.g. machining of a single prototype), to one year or longer for complex R&D projects (e.g. development of a new technology).
What if my project involves proprietary information and/or samples?
It is expected that some clients will perform confidential work at the TDC, in which cases we will work with the project partner to accommodate their intelletual property concerns. The TDC offers standardized non-disclosure and sample transfer agreements to protect the commercial interests of project partners. Copies of these forms are available for download at the following link to WWU’s Research and Sponsored Programs website.
What if a patentable invention is made in the course of my project?
WWU’s intellectual property policy is similar to that at most other universities: inventions made solely by your company are owned by your company, inventions made solely by WWU personnel are owned by WWU, and inventions made jointly are jointly owned. The complete policy is available here.
How are projects managed?
TDC projects are typically led by a designated WWU faculty member or a member of the company staff working in cooperation with a faculty member who will supervise students and staff, direct the project, and ensure the quality and timeliness of outcomes. Multidisciplinary projects requiring knowledge and expertise in more than one area are conducted by teams of faculty and students, sometimes drawn from several academic departments. Once your project is selected, the TDC will handle the details of project management and participant selection for you. Every project includes a final report and may include interim reports or meetings, depending on scope and duration.
What companies and organizations has Western’s TDC recently partnered with?
Recent and current partnerships include:
Hybrid Bus Project: WWU’s Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) is working with Bremerton-based Kitsap Transit and other regional transit agencies as well as private sector partners on a feasibility study for a light-weight prototype of a hybrid paratransit bus that has the goal of doubling the fuel efficiency of its existing buses in this class. The hybrid bus project is funded by a Federal Transit Administration grant.
New Market Design Lab: This small industrial design firm is using TDC space to carry out their R&D activities related to developing medical device prototypes for the telepharmancy industry.
Biomethane for Transportation Project: The VRI is developing components for a biogas refinery system which will be installed at a Whatcom County dairy where it will be used in the production of methane gas fuel from a manure digester. This project is funded by a grant from a consortium of private and public sector partners.