Free research and development: Match projects to researchers


Matching research and development (R&D) projects with university-based researchers can be challenging and time consuming if a company doesn’t have close ties with a local university or college. Another way is a recently created site that’s still seeking participants free of charge. launched in October 2006 and has tried to spread the word to about 350 universities, government agencies, business development centers, and media, says co-founder Gerald B. Zerfas of .

“I don't believe there is an appreciation for the magnitude of the number of projects that a firm would like to pursue but cannot due to limitations on funding or not having the qualified staff,” Zerfas told Control Engineering. Initially, free postings at were to end Dec. 31, 2006, then Feb. 1, 2007, and now are extended until May 1, 2007, to better fit university scheduling, Zerfas suggests. As of early January, seven main industries are listed (including a handful of technology and engineering projects), among more than 60 specific categories.

While the U.S. government does have programs to match proposals to researchers, R&D projects from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), for instance, can run for multiple years and require a specialized research department within a university, Zerfas says. “Typically you have Ph.D. candidate students working on them. In addition, the process for putting such programs in place is very elaborate. is targeted to the senior-level student (or a team of students) who have to do a senior design project, also called a capstone project at some universities.” is similar to eBay, Zerfas says, because it uses the Internet to create national exposure for a firm seeking assistance on an R&D project and gives students a broader view of available projects. The site is banking on approximately 5 million U.S. businesses in the U.S., some of which may have projects they would like to pursue and cannot because of resource limits. In addition, start-up companies and non-profit organizations often are “severely limited as to the amount of funds they can allocate to research and development.”

More than 2,000 universities, especially engineering schools, want undergraduate and graduate students to do a final year project, working with a business on a new idea or process, the site says. allows businesses to select from interested students. Teams and students gain valuable experience and connections. Creators Zerfas and Howard A. Wright seek input, advice, and participants. They’ve already answered many frequently asked questions on their site, based in Grand Rapids, MI.

For some U.S. government agencies involved in research, click here .

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Mark T. Hoske,

No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Additive manufacturing benefits; HMI and sensor tips; System integrator advice; Innovations from the industry
Robotic safety, collaboration, standards; DCS migration tips; IT/OT convergence; 2017 Control Engineering Salary and Career Survey
Integrated mobility; Artificial intelligence; Predictive motion control; Sensors and control system inputs; Asset Management; Cybersecurity
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This article collection contains several articles on how automation and controls are helping human-machine interface (HMI) hardware and software advance.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me