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OSU Center Honored for Prototype Work with Muskogee Manufacturer

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

STILLWATER, OKLA. -- The national association for university-based organizations that provide economic development, business and technical assistance to businesses and communities has presented Oklahoma State University its 2005 Award for Excellence in Technology Commercialization.

During its annual conference last month in Monterrey, Calif., the University Economic Development Association recognized OSU’s New Product Development Center for its work with Klutts Equipment Inc. The NPDC, which provides prototyping assistance to Oklahoma’s small- and medium-sized, rural manufacturers, developed for the Muskogee firm a new railroad maintenance machine called the “Gon-topper.”

The Gon-Topper is a wireless, remote-controlled, self-loading/unloading machine used to load and unload railroad ties, gravel, tie plates, tie spikes and other railroad maintenance supplies from gondola cars.

“The Klutts Gon-Topper developed by the NPDC brings to the national and international railroad industry a safe, efficient, flexible and cost effective means to load and unload railroad gondola cars during construction and maintenance of railroad right-of-way,” said Dr. Larry Hoberock, NPDC co-director and professor and head of OSU’s School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

The UEDA competition is held for its members and their designated affiliates to identify outstanding efforts in economic development.

The Klutts Gon-Topper was developed by a team of New Product Develop Center engineers and designers comprised of OSU faculty, staff and students led by Marvin Smith, former OSU professor of mechanical engineering technology. Using a concept and input from Klutts Equipment, the NPDC team designed, constructed and delivered a working prototype.

Hoberock said the production of the Gon-Topper will result in nine immediate Oklahoma jobs, and 90 expected future jobs and an increase of $1.5 to $2 million in domestic revenues after the completion of a new, 10,500-sq.-ft. production facility now under construction in Muskogee.

Klutts Equipment also expanded its market to include global customers.
NPDC student interns from OSU’s Agricultural Communications program worked as consultants to help Klutts Equipment develop a communications strategy to promote the company and its new product. The collaboration gave the students a real-world experience, while Klutts received professional communications materials including a new company website, logo, and letterhead.

“Receiving this award establishes the NPDC as a national leader and will help us recruit more new product development projects from small, rural manufacturers in Oklahoma,” Hoberock said.  “It also demonstrates to the state legislature and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce that the investment they place with us not only will return multiples to Oklahoma on that investment, but has brought national recognition to the State as a leader in this area.”

Hoberock said the New Product Development Center at OSU provides a valuable opportunity for existing manufacturers to develop and commercialize their new product ideas.

“Since its inception in 2002, the NPDC has already created the potential for 250 new jobs and more than $90 million in new revenues for Oklahoma manufacturers,” Hoberock said. “Every NPDC project is an investment in the future of Oklahoma.”

Formerly known as the National Association of Management and Technical Assistance Centers, the University Economic Development Association provides advocacy and information to enhance the performance of university-based organizations and their affiliates providing economic development, business and technical assistance to companies and communities. The association is unique in that it focuses on universities’ role in economic development and provides a forum for a diverse membership with the common goals of enhancing enterprise competitiveness and community wealth.

by Marsha Broesche

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