An Innovative, Can-Do Partner
The Center for Rapid Product Realization (the Rapid Center) is a university-based product development center that helps clients refine existing products, develop new ones and improve business practices. Our industry-experienced faculty and staff work with business partners to address their specific needs and to remove obstacles to product commercialization and process improvement. At the same time, our students, working with faculty mentors and course instructors, address real problems for project sponsors while they gain hands-on engineering experience during the two-semester senior capstone project.
The Rapid Center is partially funded by the Economic Development Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and is a partner of WCU's EDA University Center. Collaborating with the Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC) and with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in WCU’s College of Business, the Rapid Center assists individuals and companies whose combined successes will improve the economic strength of the state, the region and the Southeast.
For Business Partners
At the Rapid Center, you will find the engineering expertise, facilities and equipment you need – all in one place – to get your project completed within your budget and on time. Your intellectual property is protected, under contract, with our analysis and testing agreement (ATA).
- match RP method to development stage and requirements
- evaluate form, fit and function with rapid prototypes
- field-test functional prototypes to help prevent costly tooling mistakes
- verify specifications using contact or non-contact metrology
- optimize manufacturing methods with input from our experts
- provide advice on intellectual property issues and agreements and much more!
In addition to technical assistance, we offer access to business resources and information that can help you move forward with successful commercialization of your product. Whether you are a startup or an established corporation, a small or large business, an inventor or an entrepreneur, you will find we are fully engaged as partners with you in the effort to find practical solutions that meet your needs.
For Project Sponsors
If you have a challenging project that deserves serious attention but without the pressure of an immediate solution, we invite you to submit a proposal for our senior capstone project. Under the guidance of faculty and staff and with your help as mentor, our student teams will use a multi-disciplinary, stage/gate process to meet deadlines and achieve results over two semesters (August to May). When your project is complete, you will have project documentation, a fully tested prototype, project solution or new knowledge that you can use or develop further.
For Our Students
Through the Rapid Center, you will be given an extraordinary opportunity to work on real projects – not just samples with known answers; to use what you are learning in your classrooms and labs; to integrate facts with good engineering habits; and to address specific challenges and accomplish results. That experience – that project-based learning – will give you a distinct advantage as you prepare for graduate school or your career.
Affiliated Faculty and Staff
All of our highly qualified faculty members bring years of industry experience as well as a thorough foundation in scholarly research that keeps them current in their fields of interest. Along with that, they bring a strong commitment both to teaching and to serving business and industry throughout the region. Their hands-on approach to problem solving means they will achieve practical results for our corporate clients. Their commitment to project-based learning means they will provide the most effective instruction and guidance for students.
Facilities and Equipment
The Rapid Center’s offices, classrooms and labs are located in the Belk Building and Center for Applied Technology. They are fully equipped with professional software and hardware that meets or exceeds industry standards for product design, development and testing.
If you want to know more about our work or if you would like to tour our facilities and talk about the capabilities of the Rapid Center, please contact us at (828) 227-2560 or email Patrick Gardner or Ryan Taylor.
Visit the School
We invite you to visit the Kimmel School to learn more about what the school is doing as a leader in higher education and as a partner in technology-led economic development throughout the region. Our offices, classrooms and labs are located in the Center for Applied Technologies and in the Belk Building on the south side of WCU's main campus in Cullowhee, NC.