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Pentair partnership: Solving complex challenges

Pentair Engineering Manager Brian Boothe collaborates with a student intern in the company's innovation center on Centennial Campus.
Pentair Engineering Manager Brian Boothe collaborates with a student intern in the company's innovation center on Centennial Campus.

NC State is a leading research enterprise, home to more than 40 centers and institutes and offering 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs across 65 departments. Locating on the university’s Centennial Campus enables proximity to world-class student and faculty talent, and specialized equipment and resources.

Ten years ago, Pentair—a global technology-driven provider of industry-leading products, services and solutions that ensure water around the world is safe and plentiful—was looking for a way to accelerate innovation by supplementing its mechanical engineering expertise.

The company’s immediate need was to expand its autonomous underwater robot technology to the swimming pool market. Brian Boothe, engineering manager at Pentair and a two-time NC State alumnus, turned to the university’s electrical and computer engineering departments to engage students in solving technology challenges. The immersive experiential learning opportunity allowed students to receive course credit for the project-based work and Pentair was able to tackle complex business problems.

Increased engagement

The relationship quickly expanded to other areas of the company and across university disciplines. Pentair found partnering with students and faculty so valuable, it opened an innovation center on NC State’s Centennial Campus in 2011 to further engagement.

Today, Pentair continues to work with several of NC State’s engineering departments to develop new products. And the relationship has moved beyond just technical disciplines—hiring student interns, sponsoring research and making charitable donations across the university.

Pentair has partnered with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ psychology department to develop an app for its aquaculture business. Students worked on improving the user experience, enabling insight into new areas.

As a member of NC State’s Nonwovens Institute, part of the College of Textiles, Pentair utilizes specialized equipment and collaborates with faculty subject matter experts. They’re working with the institute to identify applied research opportunities from fundamental research to better understand how plastic fiber layers might capture micro particles. Pentair is also a member of the Center for Innovation Management Studies in the Poole College of Management.

Broader impact

Pentair has a large manufacturing operation in Sanford, N.C., and recently broke ground on an engineering and R&D facility in nearby Apex, focused on the company’s water treatment products for swimming pools and other water filtration systems.

This post was originally published in Centennial Campus.