Radar Lab Spurs Innovation, Collaboration in Oklahoma

Located on University of Oklahoma's Research Campus, the lab offers students and faculty access to a full suite of advanced testing equipment.

by Silas Allen, The Oklahoman / April 27, 2015
The Radar Innovations Laboratory at the University of Oklahoma YouTube/The University of Oklahoma

(TNS) — After years of planning and construction, the University of Oklahoma’s Radar Innovations Lab is open and buzzing with activity.

Located on OU’s Research Campus, the building was completed and dedicated in October. Now, the building is filled with students, faculty and engineers doing research and developing radar technology.

“It’s busy every day,” said Bob Palmer, OU’s associate vice president for research. “Things are really reaching a steady state now.”

The $15 million lab is at the center of the university’s efforts to expand its radar program. The building is designed to house 60 students and 20 faculty from the university’s Advanced Radar Research Center, giving them access to a full suite of advanced testing equipment.

The building includes a high-bay garage designed to accommodate taller radar trucks that are fitted for storm chasing and classified research space designed for U.S. Defense Department programs. Other features include a machine shop and a so-called ideas room designed to foster collaboration.

The building also features two precision anechoic chambers, which produce few or no echoes. Large foam cones line the chambers’ floors and walls, while a narrow metal bridge allows workers to walk inside the chambers. The cones are blue and white, with the exception of one corner of the largest chamber, where red and white cones are used to form the OU logo.

During the dedication in October, OU President David Boren called the building “an achievement in teamwork.”

“It shows what happens when people dream together and work hard together to carry out their vision, when they share the best possible ideas and act on them,” he said.

Before the building opened, radar researchers were spread out in several buildings on campus, hindering collaboration, Palmer said. Researchers could communicate by phone or email, he said, but casual conversations about projects were nearly impossible.

Since the building has opened, the university has moved researchers from the National Weather Center, Devon Energy Hall and elsewhere into the new lab. Now, researchers are able to discuss their work, often leading to greater collaboration and better ideas, Palmer said.

The building brings together students, faculty and engineers from several disciplines, placing weather radar researchers under the same roof as others who specialize in areas like defense and security.

“It really does spur new and exciting projects,” he said.

©2015 The Oklahoman. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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