Spring on the York College campus

Back to List

Manufacturing PA Innovation Program Grant Funds Research Project Housed in Knowledge Park @YCP

October 23, 2023
A student smiles as she adjusts a mechanical cobot in the MRG Labs

When completed, the Knowledge Park @YCP will accommodate dozens of business and industry partners committed to innovating and collaborating with York College students and faculty. While the benefits of such an arrangement will be enjoyed by the local business community and campus participants, a research project housed there could advance manufacturing across the Commonwealth.

First Tenant Brings Tribology Research Center

The first tenant of the Knowledge Park is MRG Laboratories, a leader in machine reliability education, grease sampling solutions, and grease analysis services and an anchor tenant of the College’s J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. MRG had a cobot (or collaborative robot that assists a human worker, as on an assembly line, by guiding or redirecting motions initiated by the worker who provides the motive power) and was looking for ways to maximize its impact on their operation.

Along with industry partner Airline Hydraulics, MRG Labs worked with York College to seek funding through a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Manufacturing PA Innovation Program (MPIP) grant to construct the Tribology Research Center. The Center houses a research project on the cobot that utilizes York College students as interns/investigators.

“MRG’s current Tribology Lab developed out of this grant,” said Dr. Greg Foy, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Principal Investigator of the project. “MRG developed the lab specifically for this research project using the cobot in chemical analysis.”

The research focuses on making cobots more efficient and mobile in a laboratory environment, with the potential to positively impact manufacturers and their processes across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The MPIP leverages the science and engineering talent of Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities to help ensure that the Commonwealth remains a national and international leader in manufacturing and achieves the full economic potential for good, well-paying manufacturing jobs. The grant is annual and must be applied for each year, according to Foy. Thus far, three grants have provided nearly $270,000 to support the project; Foy and others are applying for a fourth year.

“Our initial investigation of using a cobot in MRG’s lab developed into a second year when we tried to increase the automation capability,” said Foy. “During this third year, we have the cobot analyzing samples at specific stations, and now we are designing ways for the cobot to move between stations without operator input.”

Funds from the fourth grant, if awarded, will address the following questions, according to Foy: “How many different analyses can the cobot perform in MRG’s lab? How quickly can we accomplish the analysis? How can we store the data so MRG technicians and customers can access the data in real time?”

Students Serve as Manufacturing Fellows

A number of York College students have served as Manufacturing Fellows for the research project, including Mikaela Domingo, a senior Civil Engineering major from Brooklyn, NY; Zachary Redcay ‘22, an Electrical Engineering graduate from Carlisle, PA; Andrew Mott, a senior Computer Engineering major from Dillsburg, PA; Josh Hall, a senior Mechanical Engineering major from High Point, NC; Luke Landis, a senior Electrical Engineering major from Carlisle, PA; Markeish Williams, a senior Computer Science major from Philadelphia, PA; and Megan Wolf ’23, a Forensic Chemistry graduate from Hanover, PA, who currently serves as a Forensic Lab Chemist at MRG Labs.

“Through the internship and the grant, I learned a lot about how to be more self-reliant and how to conduct my work in a way that would utilize my time and skills as efficiently as possible,” said Mott. “I also gained an understanding of the positive direction that the manufacturing industry is heading toward, not just in York but also Pennsylvania as a whole. There are a lot of companies and jobs to be had in the manufacturing industry here in Pennsylvania.”

Manufacturing Fellows have been supervised by Chemistry graduates Richard Janosky ‘13 and Dylan Kletzing ’20. Janosky previously served as Laboratory Manager and Laboratory Assistant and is currently the Senior Conditions Monitoring Analyst Supporting the Army Oil Analysis Program for MRG Labs. Kletzing is a Lab Manager with the company. 

The Knowledge Park @YCP Is the Ideal Location

The Knowledge Park is located on York College’s campus adjacent to the Codorus Creek and Rail Trail and is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities to meet the needs of modern businesses. Its location encourages collaboration between business partners and students, making it the ideal location for MRG to locate the Tribology Research Center.

"We are delighted that MRG has created its Research Center at Knowledge Park. Their commitment to innovation and proven track record of meaningful student engagement aligns perfectly with our vision for the types of relationships suited for Knowledge Park," said Jeff Vermeulen, Assistant Vice for External Relations and Executive Director of York College’s Knowledge Park. “The DCED-funded Manufacturing PA Innovation research project will thrive in the new Center and is indicative of the type of public/private innovation we aim to cultivate at Knowledge Park.”

Rich Wurzbach, President and CEO of MRG Labs, expressed excitement about the new agreement. "We are thrilled to be housing our Tribology Research Center at Knowledge Park. The location, facilities, and ability to engage YCP students and faculty are ideal for our business needs, and we believe it will help us to grow and thrive in the coming years."