Published: Jan. 17, 2017

Boulder and Ball Aerospace sign master research agreement

Bolstering its 60-year collaboration with Ball Aerospace, the University of Colorado Boulder today announced a new Master University Research Agreement between the two organizations. The agreement will facilitate and streamline opportunities for students and faculty to work with Ball to carry out sponsored research, contribute to Ball’s talent pipeline and partner on projects.

The five-year agreement will apply to a variety of activities, including government-sponsored research and development work, Ball-funded work, consulting services and university student design projects. Because the agreement sets in place a majority of the terms and conditions, the contracting process is significantly streamlined, expanding and enhancing collaboration opportunities between both parties.

“Our relationship with Ball is truly a special one and this agreement demonstrates our commitment to nurturing and growing this unique partnership,” said Terri Fiez, CU Boulder vice chancellor for Research & Innovation. “Our faculty, staff and students will reap the benefits of the greater ease of partnering on research and student projects, and we’ll continue to bring value to Ball and Colorado’s aerospace industry through our collaborative research outputs and contributions.” 

Ball Aerospace, part of Ball Corporation, is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2016-17 and was incorporated at the dawn of the space age as the Ball Brothers Research Corporation. Ed Ball’s collaboration with faculty and graduate students from CU’s Upper Air Laboratory (now known as Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics – LASP), or CU Rocket Project, resulted in the new company, which has been a part of Ball Corporation since its founding in 1956. Since the early days, Ball Aerospace and CU Boulder have enjoyed a strong partnership that has resulted in several historic firsts and helped to advance understanding of the solar system with the design and building of innovative spacecraft and instruments.

“This agreement allows us to efficiently build upon our long and storied heritage of working together, leveraging some of the nation’s best and brightest research and talent to develop critical technologies that go beyond, explore, discover and protect the nation,” said Michael Gazarik, vice president of engineering at Ball Aerospace.

Through its collaborations, CU Boulder and Ball Aerospace have together participated in a number of NASA contracts, including the recently announced NASA Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission to study black holes. One of the most successful collaborations is an instrument designed by CU Boulder scientists at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy (CASA) and built by Ball that is now on the Hubble Space Telescope. The instrument, called the Cosmic Origins Spectograph, is being used to look back in time to reconstruct the physical conditions of the early universe, probing the evolution of galaxies, stars and intergalactic matter by breaking down ultraviolet light.

Other notable research and mission operations services provided by CU researchers and students include the NASA QuickSCAT Satellite, KEPLER, Total solar irradiance Calibration Transfer Experiment Total Irradiance Monitor (TCTE TIM) and Mission Operations projects. Such programs demonstrate the mutual benefits of the relationship: providing cost-effective, competitive programs for Ball and valuable research opportunities for CU faculty and students. 

Ball has been a regular collaborator with CU’s LASP, CASA and Department of Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences (APS), generating more than $100 million in shared NASA contracts. Ball regularly engages in research and development partnerships with CU faculty to remain on the cutting-edge of aerospace technology. Ball has been a consistent sponsor of a number of CU Boulder's engineering senior design courses, scholarships and diversity initiatives, and regularly taps CU Boulder students for internships and full-time employment.