NORFOLK, Va. — Old Dominion University (ODU) is collaborating with LAVLE USA Inc. to establish a new Marine Electric Propulsion Simulation (MEPS) Laboratory, the university announced in a Dec. 8 release. The $12 million, 22,000-square-foot lab will be built on 1.33 acres in the heart of downtown Newport News, Virginia.
The lab will house state-of-the-art equipment to develop marine electric propulsion, advanced energy storage, autonomous systems and associated technologies to advance marine vessels for military and commercial applications. It will also focus on training the current and next-generation workforce supporting the shipbuilding and ship repair industry.
ODU President John R. Broderick sees the partnership in Newport News as an ideal opportunity for hands-on learning, particularly in one of the region’s key industries.
“The university is excited about this project, which has grown from of our digital shipbuilding initiative and aligns with our partners’ collective vision for America Builds and Repairs Great Ships,” Broderick said. “It is exactly the sort of collaborative research with which ODU wants to be affiliated — it is cutting edge, makes a significant economic impact to the region, supports the region’s military, maritime and industrial bases, and provides hands-on training and education for students, industry and naval personnel.”
The lab is expected to create at least 25 high-paying jobs including designers, engineers, programmers, and analysts.
LAVLE will design the lab’s engineering and building plans for city approval in the first half of 2019. Construction is expected to begin in the summer with occupancy anticipated in summer 2020.
“The advantages of workforce development in Newport News cannot be overstated. In addition to the technical advantages of partnership with ODU and the MEPS Lab, LAVLE USA is extremely excited about the workforce development opportunity where our business will become even more heavily invested. Vessel electrification and hybridization within the region is a critical future market,” said Jason Nye, LAVLE CEO.
“We are pleased LAVLE and ODU have selected Newport News as the site of the MEPS Lab,” said Mayor McKinley L. Price. “The research and development that will be conducted at MEPS will bring new technology to the commercial and military markets and expand Newport News’ role as a center of excellence for maritime innovation and construction.”
“The city and EDA are excited to host MEPS,” said Florence G. Kingston, the city’s director of development and secretary/treasurer of the EDA. “We have been impressed by the entrepreneurial approach LAVLE and ODU have displayed during the site-selection process for the lab.”