A partnership between the Youngstown State University Research Foundation, or YSURF, and Power Plaza of Seoul, South Korea, may provide future opportunities for YSU students and the Mahoning Valley.
Eric Planey, vice president of International Business Attraction for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber helped establish the Memorandum of Understanding, also referred to as MOU.
“It is a handshake on paper,” Planey said. “It’s a formal first step in negotiating the growth of a formal agreement on items such as research collaboration.”
The MOU was signed in early October. At a Seoul trade show in February, Planey met some of the company’s representatives, and he invited Power Plaza and three other Asian companies to attend YSU’s Sustainable Energy Forum in June.
“There, we began the more formal process of talking about a research collaboration on electric vehicle technology,” Planey said.
Collaborations are tentatively set to begin in January.
“The MOU will have three positive effects,” Planey said. “It will bring more engineering talent to live and work in the Valley, attract more technology research in electric cars and attract more Korean investment here.”
Martin Abraham, founding dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, said the details of the partnership are still to be determined, but so far, they involve Power Plaza engineers establishing their presence in a research lab on campus.
“Engineers from the company will work hand-in-hand with YSU students,” said Chet Cooper, president of YSURF.
Power Plaza develops industrial and telecommunication products that require high efficiency and reliability. The research conducted on campus will investigate battery management in electric cars.
“One of the challenges of electric vehicles is battery management,” Abraham said. “It is necessary to control the flow of energy from the battery.”
Opportunities for research will be available for both undergraduate and graduate students.