HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Boeing’s history in Alabama spans more than half a century, and one of its latest projects in the state is helping to chart the aerospace giant’s future.
The Boeing Research and Technology Center, which opened a year ago in Huntsville, serves as a key hub for the company’s technology development.
Announced in 2013, with an estimated investment of $5 million to $6 million, the facility now houses about 300 employees, including software and advanced analytics engineers, microbiologists, composite specialists and support staff.
“The next 100 years of innovation starts here,” Steve Swaine, leader of the research center, said at its opening. “We’ve brought together a team made up of the best and brightest in data analytics, advanced engineering and many other disciplines to help Boeing create, develop, produce and support the best aerospace products in the world.”
The facility features 80,000 square feet of lab and office space, including the 7,000-square-foot Center for Applied Simulation and Analytics.
“There is amazing talent in this region, and we are really benefiting from being here,” Swaine said recently.
‘PIPELINE OF BRIGHT MINDS’
The Alabama center is part of Boeing Research and Technology, the company’s research and development arm that provides future aerospace solutions, for both the commercial and defense businesses, with improved cost, quality and performance.
Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said Boeing’s roots in the state run deep and wide, with about 2,750 employees who work on everything from national missile defense systems to new space exploration endeavors.
The Boeing Alabama research center underscores the trust the company continues to place in the state’s workforce, he added.
“In Alabama, our workers are showing that they can not only build the rockets, but they can also conceive and develop the technology behind them and other vehicles that will be the future of flight,” he said. “We are working to bring even more of these highly-skilled jobs to the state and maintain the pipeline of bright minds to fill them.”
Innovation and research are key components of Accelerate Alabama, the state’s strategic plan for job creation. And Boeing’s Huntsville research center is the type of project that’s a priority for Canfield and Alabama’s economic developers team, which is working to recruit business at the Farnborough International Airshow near London this week.
RESEARCH CENTER ACTIVITIES
The Boeing Alabama research center explores and develops technologies in a wide range of fields. They include simulation and analytics, systems analysis, applied mathematics, chemicals, composite materials, metals and ceramics, propulsion, avionics systems and sensors, communication and sensing, cyber security, materials and processes and product standards.
The lab space is outfitted with autoclaves that heat-treat composite materials, an accelerated rate calorimeter to test heat reactions, state-of-the-art machines to test the properties of metals and computers to simulate and test vehicle management systems.
Along with Alabama, the company also has research centers in California, Missouri, South Carolina and Washington in the U.S., as well as Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, India and Russia.