The Materials Research Institute (MRI) is one of seven interdisciplinary institutes at Penn State. The institutes support the research mission of the University, and in that capacity, they are great engagement points for industry. MRI has three core facilities open to industry, academic and government users. More than 350 affiliated faculty and researchers in five colleges and fifteen academic departments. Many materials research centers have a special technical focus or mission and most have industry participation or membership.

Working with Us

Accessing MRI facilities such as the Materials Characterization Lab, the Nanofabrication Lab, or the 2D Crystal Consortium is offered to you as self-service or full-service access.

  • Each facility has a tab at the top of the MRI home page that lists available tools, staff, and expertise.
  • Research is service level in nature and does not typically involve generation of intellectual property (IP).
  • MRI offers an Academic Research Services Order (ARSO) – a simple all-encompassing document meant to take the place of a sponsored research agreement.
  • The terms and conditions of an ARSO agreement are viewable here: ARSO Info, NDA, and FAQs.
  • To get started you can contact David Fecko or if you have a very specific need you can reach out to the facility director or technical person of contact of interest.

Industry-Specific Research Process

MRI faculty often work on industry-specific research projects under a Sponsored Research Agreement (SRA). 

  • Faculty research is best applied to deeper understanding of new opportunities, products, or processes.
  • SRAs often involve support of graduate students for several years.
  • Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) can govern the technical conversations as the research is defined.
  • There are three pre-negotiated and well-defined options for IP from SRAs that can speed up the contracting process.
  • Master Sponsored Research Agreements may be possible for companies working on more than two or three SRAs per year
  • Federal flow through projects are possible, but are governed by the Bayh-Dole Act
  • If you are interested in finding the right faculty connection and assistance in setting up an SRA or Master Research Agreement, please contact David Fecko, MRI’s Director of Industry Collaborations

How can industry get involved with MRI activities? 

Subscribe to our mailing list and manage your subscription to receive information on the following:

  • Materials Day is our largest outreach event, held every October. Each year is a different theme, but always involves updates on faculty research, offers student engagement, and opportunities to participate in formative discussions on trends and opportunities in materials research.  Sponsorships are available.
  • eMaterials is a monthly electronic newsletter with research press releases and upcoming events (subscribe here and enter email and name to subscribe to eMaterials).
  • Focus on Materials is a biannual magazine, available in hard copy or electronic version, highlighting a subject area of materials research.
  • Millennium Café is an open, weekly (Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m.) networking event that features two high-level faculty presentations on engaging topics that you can listen to while enjoying coffee and pastries.
  • Other meetings organized by Penn State researchers around materials.

Facility Visits

MRI has a great story to tell and many places for industry to engage.  The best way to get a sense of the breadth and depth of our capabilities is to visit. Contact Dave Fecko to schedule a facility tour and associated faculty meetings.

Workforce Development and Talent Pipeline

MRI uses philanthropic industry support to train students in areas that industry places high values on. Safety Olympics, Elevator Pitch Competition, and MRI Undergraduate Fellowships (focused on experiential learning in the analytical sciences) are examples of such programs. We can help you identify and engage undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level talent to identify potential high caliber employees.   We work closely with the career services department and directly with the materials-related academic units to help companies get the word out on open positions that require training in materials related disciplines.