This morning Airbus donated  an A330 elevator to students and faculty members at the University of South Alabama, a first step in what both entities are hoping will be a mutually beneficial relationship.

The piece of technology, which is used for flight control on the tail of the aircraft, is approximately 28 feet long and manufactured with composite material. Weighing just over 200 pounds, the part’s market value repaired is approximately $750,000.

“For Airbus, any partnership with education in Mobile is an investment in our future and that of the aerospace industry,” said Barry Eccleston, President-Airbus Americas. “Our Engineering Center in Mobile, and the construction of the A320 Family Assembly Line, has given students who want to work in aerospace a local option to do so. With this donation, we hope to help give students at USA hands-on experience with the new materials used in aerospace, and put them one step closer to realizing their future.”

The donation follows continuing discussions between university leaders and Airbus officials on developing a mutually beneficial partnership. Last month, USA representatives were invited by Airbus to Europe as part of that dialogue.

Among those on the trip were USA President Tony Waldrop and Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson.

“The University of South Alabama faculty and administration and Airbus Group engineers and leadership have had extensive discussions, and this donation shows the importance and value of strong corporate-education partnerships,” said Lynne Chronister, USA vice president for research and economic development. “We are excited about the interfaces between the Airbus Group vision and the expertise and technologies being developed here at USA.”

The elevator will be particularly useful in research led by Dr. Kuang-Ting Hsiao, a mechanical engineering professor whose focus includes composite materials. Hsiao is specifically researching a method of using nano-fibers to strengthen layered carbon fiber composites — research that was featured in a Lagniappe cover story last month.

“This large carbon fiber composite material part from an Airbus A330 provides a unique resource for our faculty and students,” said Dr. John Steadman, dean of the College of Engineering. “It makes it possible for our engineering students to study and test a very large commercial version of the high-strength materials that are the subject of their classes and laboratory experiments. Seeing how the theory of composite materials becomes a reality in the aircraft industry will give our students a new perspective on their future careers.”