Macon State College Helps Georgia Realize the
Vision of the Aerospace Innovation Center
Mike Hale, right, executive director of
Macon State's Warner Robins Campus and interim director of
the Aerospace Innovation Center, talks with Joseph Marks,
director of planning and materiel for TIMCO Aviation
By Mike Hale
In late 2003, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue
announced the creation of the Aerospace Innovation Center for the
Warner Robins/Macon area.
“Centers of Innovation bring together research and local assets
in mid-sized Georgia cities to attract company interest and
technology based economic development,” Perdue said at the time.
“Combining the expertise and facilities in Middle Georgia with fresh
ideas and new technology will directly benefit the region, the state
and the nation.”
Today, there are five innovation centers around the state, each
focused on a cluster of activity related to one of Georgia's
strategic industries. The center in Columbus, for example, leverages
that region's strength in the insurance and banking industries to
support an Information Technologies Innovation Center. Augusta, with
its large medical economic base, supports a Life Sciences Innovation
Center, while Savannah is the base for the Maritime Logistics
Innovation Center. Tifton, meanwhile, hosts the Agriculture
Technologies Innovation Center.
Macon State hosts and provides administrative support for the
Aerospace Innovation Center at the College's Warner Robins Campus.
Central Georgia's aerospace cluster contains all the ingredients
needed to capitalize on this economic development strategy: an
environment rich in infrastructure, industry information,
technological capacity, competing companies, applied university
research, and private research and development surrounded by a pool
of specialized talent in maintenance, repair and overhaul
To link these critical resources, the Aerospace Innovation Center
is charged with establishing partnerships between the Georgia
Department of Economic Development, the state's University System,
Mercer University, area technical colleges, private industry and the
Warner Robins Air Logistics Center.
Operating with support from the OneGeorgia Authority, the
Center's specific missions are to encourage development of
innovative new technologies that extend the productive lifecycle of
aircraft, help attract new companies in aerospace technologies and
promote entrepreneurial programs throughout the region. Of course,
job creation is an important factor in all of these initiatives.
So how exactly does the Aerospace Innovation Center work?
The Center is a membership organization requiring dues or in-kind
contributions. As incentives for potential members, the Center has
launched four projects that are open to all participating companies.
These projects include training for Capability Maturity Model
Integrated (CMMI) certification, Lean Research with applied
application, Software Simulation for Process Improvement and a
Quality Verification Center.
The Center's charter member is TIMCO Inc., which has an operation
in Macon at Middle Georgia Regional Airport and specializes in the
repair, maintenance and overhaul (MRO) and modification of heavy jet
aircraft. TIMCO is working with member institution Georgia Tech on a
Lean Research project.
As a membership incentive, the state offers matching funds to
companies participating in an Aerospace Innovation Center project
with a research partner from a member school. Currently, two
participants are involved in center projects while preparing
requests for these funds. Macon State College is working on a
matching funds request along with BAE Systems Analytical Solutions
and the Georgia Tech School of Industrial Engineering in support of
a project called, “Software Simulation for Process Improvement.”
Mercer Engineering Research Center (MERC) is planning the Quality
Verification Center and is also considering a matching funds
The message to prospective members is that they can leverage
their internal research dollars by joining like companies in the
pursuit of solutions to common industry problems - and have the
advantage of aerospace research faculties that are ranked among the
very best in the nation.
Prospective members and others interested in learning more
about the Innovation Center may call (478) 929-6710.
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