Vermeer Corp. has announced plans to build a new Applied Technology Hub at the Iowa State University Research Park, adding to the park’s continued expansion in recent years and creating an opportunity to develop and recruit talent.
The Pella-based Vermeer, which already has a center at the ISU Research Park, announced the groundbreaking of the new facility on Tuesday.
According to a release issued by the ISU Research Park, Vermeer’s new state-of-the-art facility will house offices, meeting spaces and a high bay space. The facility is intended for software engineers to develop practical, affordable and modular equipment technology. With new office space, students and faculty from ISU and other schools can work collaboratively on technological advancements for Vermeer industrial and agricultural equipment.
Vermeer Chief Operating Officer Jason Andringa said in the release that the new building will demonstrate the successful relationships between private industries and the education system.
“We are excited to continue our relationship with Iowa State to demonstrate how partnership between Iowa’s education system and private industry can best be applied. When the state, our education system and the state’s private industry come together, strong economic development potential can follow,” Andringa said.
Alison Doyle, ISU Research Park spokeswoman, said Vermeer already has strong ties to the university, but this new facility will only improve that relationship.
“I think this is a natural progression of what they have already started here,” Doyle told the Ames Tribune Tuesday.
The new facility was initially announced in September 2014, and after breaking ground Tuesday, Doyle said completion is planned for May 2016.
She said Vermeer established a presence at Research Park in 2012 with a small, roughly 2,000-square-foot space. Now, Vermeer will occupy 20,000 square feet of a 35,880-square-foot facility.
“Since 2012, it started with a pretty simple mission and has continued to grow, and the ways that they have engaged with Iowa State have also continued to grow,” she said. “We anticipate that same progression and growth to continue with the new space.”
According to Doyle, Vermeer originally came to the ISU Research Park in search of creative ways to help retain interns. The company already had a very successful relationship with ISU, with numerous alumni who worked there as full-time employees, and there was a long history of recruiting students into technical positions through internships as a way to “test drive” them.
“They found that kids had a great experience in their summer internship program, but when they came back to school, they would lose touch with them,” Doyle said. “So they were looking for ways to essentially stay in touch with those students.”
Once Vermeer has its new facility, students will be able to gain hands-on experience that they were not offered before. Students with technical skill sets in systems controlling and engineering will be able to actually work on equipment and see it function in a real-life application.
“People who like to turn wrenches and work on control systems, this is a dream opportunity,” Doyle said.
Doyle said she hopes the Vermeer Applied Technology Hub will be the beginning of a new trend between ISU and future businesses.
“Our hope and our goal would be that other companies throughout the state can look at them (Vermeer) as a model, and potentially do the same thing,” she said. “This is a great place for folks to develop technical talent and to recruit technical talent.”