Research Park to benefit students, promote liquid crystal research

Steve Bushong

The former campus bus garage promises to be one of Kent State’s most important pieces of real estate, President Lester Lefton said Friday during a speech at the facility.

Lefton said he envisions the 44,000 square foot building, now named the Kent State Centennial Research Park, as the regional hub for high-tech research, especially in the field of liquid crystal technology.

The liquid crystal research performed at Kent State has led to scientific advancements that make much of the technology for sale at Best Buy possible, said John West, vice president for research and dean of graduate studies.

The technology has also spawned several local research and manufacturing companies. But Lefton wants more.

“We envision the empty space that surrounds us today buzzing with activity from a wide range of high-tech tenants,” he said.

West said the park will benefit the region, university and students.

“The university is viewed as part of the infrastructure of a region,” he said, speaking economically. “By having this research park, it will hopefully stimulate new businesses in the area.”

Students will benefit from those businesses, too, he said. They will have greater access to research and more internship opportunities.

Sophomore physics major Christine Martincic is employed at AlphaMicron, a Kent-based research company. She researches liquid crystal displays.

The company produces ski goggles that can be adjusted to a certain tint at the touch of a button, among other eyewear.

She said the companies that exist already and the new ones that may move into the former bus garage allow students to get real-world experience.

“So many people around here don’t have experience because it’s mostly overseas,” she said.

Lefton said the park will give “Kent State students an unparalleled edge as the innovators of the future.”

The first tenant in the research park is FLEXMatters Accelerator. The group is a partnership between Kent State and NorTech, a technology-based economic development organization, according to a press release.

The park’s funding comes in part from a $7.9 million award to Kent Displays, a Kent-based liquid crystal display manufacturer. In addition, the campus bus service left $500,000 to plan and prepare the facility for future tenants.

Contact news editor Steve Bushong at [email protected].