WACO, Texas (May 7, 2012) - Bill Clifton, chairman of the Cooper Foundation, today announced an award of $250,000 to Baylor University to construct a microgravity research facility within the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC). The BRIC is the cornerstone building of the research and discovery park under construction by Baylor University and its community stakeholders Texas State Technical College in Waco (TSTC), McLennan County, and the cities of Bellmead and Waco.
"This generous gift from the Cooper Foundation is vital to the region," said Truell Hyde, Ph.D., Baylor University vice provost for research and director of the Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER). "Establishing a facility such as this within the BRIC not only provides Baylor and TSTC Waco faculty the ability to pursue new research and advanced training opportunities, it also provides incentive for industry partners to collaborate within the BRIC."
The Cooper Foundation has been an active stakeholder in the BRIC since its inception in 2008, providing funding to bring members of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP) to Waco to advise Baylor and its stakeholders regarding strategic planning for development of the facility. The AURP is a nonprofit association of national and international research, technology, and discovery park members that promotes research, industry, and government collaboration to provide economic growth for local communities surrounding research parks.
"The BRIC fits under our Community Visioning priority of promoting economic opportunities," Clifton said. "We believe the BRIC may prove one of the most important developments in our community this decade. The Cooper Foundation is pleased to be able to support prestigious research and technology commercialization here."
There are very few microgravity facilities in the world, and only a small percentage of these provide a true vacuum environment. Those that do are in constant demand, according to Hyde.
"For example, automotive and aerospace engineers have long been interested in the manner in which fuel injection systems influence fuel flow. One of the few mechanisms for exploring this experimentally is through the use of a microgravity facility. The BRIC facility will offer an affordable and repeatable method to conduct such tests in a drag-free, near-zero gravity environment, opening opportunities for Baylor faculty to collaborate with industrial partners," he said.
About Cooper Foundation
The Cooper Foundation was established in 1943 as a nonprofit, unincorporated trust wholly for the purpose of benevolent public usefulness. For more than 65 years, the Cooper Foundation has been awarding funds to make Waco a better place in which to live. Hundreds of grants and millions of dollars have been given to support the arts, education, health care, social services, historical preservation and tourism, recreation, public safety, city beautification, and feasibility surveys. The Foundation also serves an important role as convener and, at times, leader. For years Cooper has sponsored Waco Leadership Forum, which brings together the heads of important civic institutions. By convening five times a year, the Forum ensures items of common concern may be explored from a variety of perspectives. That is just one example of the many ways Cooper Foundation chooses to provide service to the Waco community.
About Baylor University
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, classified as such with "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.
Once fully operational, the BRIC will house university research and university-industry research collaborations, advanced technology workforce development and training, a business accelerator, space for international and local meetings, and K-12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outreach programs. Operations are scheduled to begin in the spring of 2013 as the first 45,000 square feet are occupied. The 330,000 - square foot BRIC facility and the 21 acres on which it is located were donated to Baylor in 2009 by the Clifton Robinson family and Bland Cromwell.