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About the Rapid Center

An Innovative Partner

The Rapid Center is a university-based research and development center based in the College of Engineering and Technology. Within a dynamic environment for applied additive manufacturing and testing, 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. The Rapid Center fosters a culture of collaborative innovation helping clients refine existing products, develop new ones, and improve business practices.

At the same time, our engineering, technology, and construction students, working with faculty mentors  work with The Rapid Center to address real-world problems for project sponsors while gaining applied experiences during their senior capstone project.

The Rapid Center’s offices, classrooms and labs are located in the Belk Building and Center for Applied Technology on the Cullowhee campus. Our facilities are fully equipped with professional software and hardware that meets, or exceeds, industry standards for product design, development, and advanced testing.

The Rapid Center serves businesses and industries throughout the Southeast and beyond, providing access to world-class product development resources while working to achieve our goals of economic transformation and engaged learning.

Collaborative Approach

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 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.

At the Rapid Center, businesses will find the both the engineering expertise and the facilities and equipment to get a project completed within budget and on time. Your intellectual property is protected, under contract, with our analysis and testing agreement (ATA).

We can:

  • Match prototyping methods to advance 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 and non-contact metrology equipment
  • Optimize manufacturing methods with input from our experts
  • Provide advice on intellectual property issues and agreements and more

In addition to technical assistance, we offer access to business resources and information to help you move forward with successful commercialization of your product. Whether you are a startup or 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. 
To learn more about becoming a business partner with The Rapid Center, visit our Research and Development Partnerships page.

If you have a challenging project that deserves serious attention but without the pressure of an immediate solution or have attempted a solution without success, we invite you to submit a proposal for a Senior

Capstone project. Under the guidance of faculty and staff and your assistance as a 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. 
To learn more about becoming a Rapid Center project sponsor, visit our Student Projects page.

Through The Rapid Center, you will be given an extraordinary opportunity to work on real projects – not just problems with known answers. You will use what you are learning in your courses and labs, integrate facts with good engineering practices, and address specific challenges – all to accomplish successful results. This project-based learning experience gives you a distinct advantage as you prepare for your professional career or further studies in graduate school.

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