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New engineering center to support North Dakota industry

NDSU and company officials announce a new center

A new engineering center at NDSU is aimed at helping support the state’s growing oil, wind, power and manufacturing industries. 

The NDSU College of Engineering announced the creation of the Center of Quality, Reliability and Maintainability Engineering. The new center will allow NDSU students and faculty to work with industry partners to improve product quality and reliability and to optimize maintenance plans.

Area companies, universities and NDSU departments will be able to use the center to collaborate on research projects, according to Om Prakash Yadav, center director and NDSU associate professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering.

“The center will serve as a resource center for local companies, especially for new startups to facilitate testing and validation of their new products as well as help analyze the functional performance and future potential in the market,” Yadav said.

Seven local companies have committed a combined $90,000 per year in membership fees to support the center for the next three years. Member company representatives serve on the center’s advisory board and help guide the center’s research.

Member companies will have direct access to center resources and get help in design testing and validation, failure and risk analysis, and establishing effective quality systems for their manufacturing operations. They, along with NDSU faculty, can submit research proposals to the center. If selected, the center will fund the research and member companies will have access to the results.

Yadav said NDSU faculty and students also will conduct reliability and maintainability training and workshops with member and nonmember companies.

Tucson, Arizona-based ReliaSoft donated $4,000 to purchase computers for the center. The company also donated more than $400,000 in workstation licenses for its software for students to use in the center’s lab. Denver-based Qualmark Corp. donated a $200,000 test chamber designed to test products at the center.

Representatives from both companies said NDSU received the latest upgrades of all equipment and software.

The center is rare in higher education, according to Pantelis Vassiliou, ReliaSoft president and CEO. His company made a similar commitment to support the College of Engineering at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Yadav said North Dakota’s oil industry is a good example of the benefit of maintainability engineering. He said oil companies could use condition-based maintenance plans to indicate when to schedule maintenance in isolated areas that are hard to reach in the winter.

Quality, reliability and maintainability engineering is a big business. Major U.S. companies spent $25 billion per year on warranty-related costs, said Andy Drenick, Qualmark president and CEO. “The best way to make better products is to ensure reliability when you are designing them,” he said.

Yadav said the U.S. Department of Defense and NASA have focused on quality and reliability engineering. “They can’t afford to build a rocket and have it not work,” he said.

The center is the first of its kind at NDSU to solely focus on issues related to reliability, risk and safety, and quality in product or system design. It will operate in temporary space in the NDSU Research and Technology Park until a permanent location is established within the College of Engineering complex. The North Dakota State Board of Higher Education approved the center in September 2013.

“As North Dakota builds it research corridor, the center will play an important role in meeting the continuous improvement needs of private sector partners,” Yadav said.

For more information, contact Yadav at or 701-231-7285.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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Vice President for University Relations
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-1068 - Fax: (701) 231-1989
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