Weather Radar Company Partners with Oklahoma University

Article excerpt

The manufacture of weather radar systems is the latest addition to the burgeoning weather industry in Norman.

Oklahoma, particularly Norman, is home to numerous weather- related pursuits, but manufacturing weather radar on a large scale has not been one of them - until now.

Enterprise Electronics Corp., whose manufacturing headquarters is in Alabama, is getting under way with a partnership with the University of Oklahoma to manufacture low-cost, X-band, dual- polarization weather radar. Company officials expect this new system to be attractive to markets that previously couldn't afford such weather radar.

To facilitate the project, Oklahoma's EDGE (Economic Development Generating Excellence) program awarded $1.8 million to EEC, one of three recipients in the last round of funding.

Chris Goode, EEC's vice president of marketing and business development, said the company is looking for a manufacturing site in Norman and is well under way on the design phase of the radar. The effort eventually will mean at least 30 new high-tech jobs in Norman.

"There's a lot of legs to this particular technology," Goode said. "Norman and OU is a great place to innovate because you have so many bright people and minds to collaborate with. That's been the driving force in our relationship with OU. It's that blending of new- thinking research that only an institution like OU can conduct, then marrying that with a commercial entity like EEC that can take those great ideas and put them in a product model and allow that to translate to benefits in the commercial sector."

EEC's new weather system is a version of the popular dual polarization radar that it already produces. Historically, weather radar has sent out energy in a single horizontal plane, Goode said. But today's dual polarization science means the radar can send energy out both horizontally and vertically. That energy pattern provides an enhanced look at the volume of ice, rain or snow that is falling.

EEC and OU have figured out a way to lower the cost of the radar significantly so that new buyers should emerge, Goode said.

"We anticipate opening up and growing our business substantially with this product," he said, "with the emphasis on low-cost. There will be a new segment of potential buyers open up because we're able to bring down the cost of ownership and cost of maintenance."

Potential new customers include smaller airports, smaller TV stations, hydroelectric power plants and other entities whose operations depend on accurately forecasting the amount of water flow, Goode said.

EEC already has a significant international presence with its radar systems. Its typical customer is a national weather service in a foreign country; for example, EEC is replacing the Germany Weather Service's existing radar with 19 new systems, Goode said. …