Above: Tim Weber, Hewlett-Packard vice president of 3-D materials and Corvallis site manager.
There’s a major reason why Hewlett-Packard chose Corvallis when the company was expanding beyond Silicon Valley in the mid-1970s: Oregon State University.
John Young, an Oregon State alumnus and HP’s CEO at the time, emphasized the university would be a strong partner for the technology powerhouse. Forty years later, the relationship is still flourishing.
Oregon State faculty and students work with HP to help translate basic research into technologies and materials. Tim Weber, HP’s vice president of 3-D materials and Corvallis site manager, says the thin films used in print heads for some of the company’s latest high-speed printers are a result of such research collaborations.
“We’re very driven with coming out with new products every year,” Weber says. “Working with Oregon State, we’re able to work on a much longer time frame to develop a new material, then we can take it and commercialize it.”
Weber says working with Oregon State researchers has also helped HP refine technologies, improve yields and product reliability and decrease costs.
The HP/Oregon State partnership is also noteworthy for the level of engagement across campus. HP regularly collaborates with faculty and students in the schools of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (MIME) and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), along with others in the colleges of Business and Science. HP staff also serve as judges at the yearly College of Engineering Graduate Research Expo, and many volunteer at Oregon State robotics events.
About 50 percent of HP’s new college hires in Corvallis come from Oregon State. And many of them started out as student interns.
HP hires interns in areas such as business, software, chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering. These internships are typically full time during the summer and can continue part-time during the academic year for local students. Such internships often lead to full-time job offers after graduation.
“The mission of the university is to educate students. They are the workforce of the future,” says Cheryl MacLeod, R&D director for HP’s advanced technology platforms lab. “As a technology company, it’s great to have access to leading-edge researchers. But it’s critical to have access to leading-edge talent.”
HP’s senior leadership includes several Oregon State alumni. Weber is a triple alumnus, having earned his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. at Oregon State. Others include Chief Technology Officer Shane Wall and Glen Hopkins, vice president and general manager of technology R&D in Corvallis and San Diego.
MacLeod says the company plans to work with Oregon State on attracting a more diverse workforce by recruiting women and underrepresented minorities to the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“It’s imperative,” she says. “You can’t create technology for the world if only a portion of the world is represented.”
Building 11 on HP’s Corvallis campus provides much-needed space for Oregon State-affiliated research institutes and spinoff companies. HP donated a 20-year lease to the 80,000-square-foot manufacturing and R&D facility to the university in 2008. Among the tenants are the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI), the Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Institute (ATAMI) and multiple startups that have launched from Oregon State or have participated in Oregon State University Advantage programs.
MacLeod believes HP benefits from having the research centers on site as well.
“It allows us to do business incubation activities together, and it provides more research and contracting flexibility,” she says.
The Oregon State Advantage Corporate Partnerships program delivers real-world solutions by matching business needs to university expertise and resources. The program helps industry access faculty and student talent, develop opportunities for sponsored research and use university facilities for research and development.