A grant from the National Science Foundation will help Rochester Institute of Technology launch REAL: The Reliability Education and Analysis Laboratory. The lab, part of RIT's Center for Electronics Manufacturing and Assembly in the College of Applied Science and Technology, will enhance RIT's three-course sequence in electronics and optoelectronics packaging-a projected $10 billion industry that's crucial to digital imaging, electronics, high-speed voice and data communications, Internet, telecommunications and wireless applications.
Modeled after a lab at the University of Maryland, RIT's lab will be available for product testing by anyone at RIT-including students working on senior design projects-and will support National Technical Institute for the Deaf students and Project Lead the Way teacher-training workshops hosted by RIT's National Technology Training Center.
“It's the first lab of its kind at RIT,” says Manian Ramkumar, professor of manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology and director of RIT's Center for Electronics Manufacturing and Assembly. The lab will be fully operational by September 2005.
The two-year, $167,525 grant, from the NSF's Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement program, is one of only about 100 proposals funded from among more than 800 applications, Ramkumar says. Earlier this year, the center shared a $406,395 grant from NSF's Major Research Instrumentation program for electronics packaging and microsystems research. That grant was used to create the Centralized Laboratory for Imaging and Metrology.