OGDEN, Utah – Environmental Potentials’ lead research and development engineer hasn’t been in the corporate office in weeks, but his bosses don’t seem to mind.
Instead, Ed Price is spending his days at Weber State University working as a professor and advising students in the Computer & Electronic Engineering Technology Department (CEET), all the while collecting a paycheck from his employer, Environmental Potentials (EP).
The arrangement is part of a new partnership the company established with WSU. Price serves as a visiting faculty member, sharing his knowledge and experience from over 40 years in the field with students. EP, not WSU, pays Price’s salary in exchange for CEET students helping the company conduct research.
“We’re bringing industry right into our classrooms,” said Bill Clapp, chairman of CEET. “Our students are working on six senior projects that are helping develop products for Environmental Potentials.”
Clapp points out that unlike partnerships between research institutions and industry, where visiting faculty rarely set foot in the classroom, Price is teaching a full course load in addition to his research work.
Environmental Potentials is a research and development company that develops technology for the power quality marketplace. These products provide system wide power quality solutions for industry, business and residential applications.
When the company decided it wanted to work with a university to advance research projects, Price suggested WSU, having worked as an adjunct faculty at the school since 1989. He contacted Clapp, who in turn sold the university on the benefits of such a partnership.
Projects are the intellectual property of EP, so students who work on them sign non-disclosure agreements before undertaking the research.
“These ideas have been generated over the past four to five years, now we are applying them to see if they work,” Price explained.
Price says students benefit from a “real world” experience in an academic setting. “I treat them just like I would an engineering team inside the company,” he said.
Clapp also sees another benefit. The arrangement allows EP to assess students’ abilities during the research, which may lead to future employment opportunities with the company. Clapp hopes that the relationship with EP will be ongoing and entice other businesses to enter into similar arrangements with WSU.