209 Center for Applied Technology
387 Centennial Drive
Cullowhee, NC 28723
828.227.2560 tel
828.227.3805 fax


Rapid Center FAQs

  How can I work with the Rapid Center?

Contact Patrick Gardner at 828-227-2560 to discuss your project's scope and deadlines and to determine whether the center's capabilities, faculty and staff, equipment and student resources are a good match for your project.

Next, make an appointment to visit the Rapid Center on WCU's campus to meet the staff and tour our facilities. When it is determined a project is a match for our capabilities, the center develops a specific scope of work for the project set forth in our working agreement – the Analysis and Testing Agreement (ATA). The specifics of cost, timeframes, deliverables and all pertinent details of the project are identified in the “scope of work” segment within the ATA document. Then the work begins.


Do you charge a fee for your engineering services?

There is no charge for preliminary discussions and initial project assessments. Once you decide to work with us as a business partner, there are fees for engineering design, testing, prototyping or fabricating services related to your project. The scope of work for a project segment will specify the total cost of all services, staff and student resources, materials, equipment usage and other details.


Is there a charge for business counseling services?

A business counselor from North Carolina's Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) provides Rapid Center clients with product commercialization counseling services at no-cost or very low cost. Examples of no-cost counseling include: business plan writing assistance, marketing strategy review, financial analysis assistance and operations planning. Examples of fee-based counseling services include: one- and two-day tactical and strategic retreats conducted at clients' business locations.


How long will it take to complete my project?

That depends on the project's scope of work. Every project is unique, so the work is unique. Projects with very complex engineering requirements and multiple design changes may take months; less complex projects can be completed in a matter of weeks or days. Projects that require fewer design iterations or other changes can be completed faster than those where multiple iterations are required, or where changes occur simply by the nature of the project. Project deadlines and deliverables are identified in the “scope of work” section within the ATA document.

If you are working with us as a project sponsor for the senior capstone project, your project will begin in August. You or your company representative will be mentoring and working with students throughout the two-semester project, so you can expect to see results at several stages along the way. The students will finish their work before the end of the school year in May.


How do you protect my intellectual property rights?

We serve as a resource to remove obstacles on the path to commercialization. We do not take ownership of your idea; instead, we want you to retain full ownership and successfully launch a new product. We do not share your project or project results with anyone without your express permission. You will find full details in the ATA.


What is your intellectual property policy?

The ATA outlines our intellectual property as follows:

  1. You retain ownership of any intellectual property you share with the Rapid Center.
  2. You acquire ownership of and responsibility for any intellectual property the Rapid Center agrees to develop for you under contract.
  3. Any intellectual property not directly related to your core business or product but is derived from a process innovation or enhanced method of using the center's labs or equipment is owned by the Rapid Center. You may have first licensing rights if you wish.


What is the Economic Development Administration?

The Economic Development Administration, or EDA, is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Rapid Center is designated an EDA University Center. The EDA's University Center Economic Development Program makes the resources of universities available to the economic development community. Institutions of higher education have extensive resources, including specialized research, outreach, technology transfer and commercialization capabilities, as well as recognized faculty expertise and sophisticated laboratories. The EDA-supported University Center program is specifically designed to marshal the resources located within colleges and universities to support regional economic development strategies in regions of chronic and acute economic distress. The university centers, which EDA considers long-term partners in economic development, are required to devote the majority of their funding to respond to technical assistance requests originating from organizations located in the economically distressed portions of their service regions.


Visit the School

Please visit the Kimmel School to learn more about what the school is doing as a leader in higher education and as a partner in technology-led economic development throughout the region.


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