United Technologies announces $1 million partnership with UConn

Yu Lei, associate professor of chemical & biomolecular engineering, left, with graduate students Qiuchen Dong and Xiaoyu Ma connect a toxic chemical sensor to a cable in the lab at the United Technologies Engineering Building on Feb. 2, 2016. (Peter Morenus for UConn)
Yu Lei, associate professor of chemical & biomolecular engineering, left, with graduate students Qiuchen Dong and Xiaoyu Ma connect a toxic chemical sensor to a cable in the lab at the United Technologies Engineering Building on Feb. 2, 2016. (Peter Morenus for UConn)

United Technologies Corp. unveiled Thursday two new initiatives Connecticut authorities hope will cement the company’s presence in the state through the use of brain power.

One project is the $8 million, 20,000-square-foot Materials and Process Engineering laboratory at UTC Aerospace Systems in Windsor Locks, the former Hamilton Standard and Hamilton Sundstrand facility across from Bradley International Airport. The plant has been there since 1952.

The other new initiative is a $1 million, 5-year commitment to establish a Materials Engineering Center for Excellence at the University of Connecticut, 37 miles away in Storrs.

“UTC could do this anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world,” said Mun Choi, provost at the University of Connecticut and a former dean of engineering and professor of mechanical engineering at the university. “The difference is they don’t have to go elsewhere to look for talent. They can find it in Connecticut.”

The money comes from UTC, not UConn, Choi said.