Wednesday, July 23, 2014

College of Textiles

NC State is nestled in the research triangle, one leg of a powerhouse trifecta of academia. On a recent trade mission to NC State's College of Textiles, I learned that the academics institution's leading textile laboratories are a cornerstone for the industry I work in, although I would venture to say that few in our industry are aware of the power and influence such an institution has.

Touring the facility allowed us the opportunity to see how the College has enabled it's students and faculty to deliver innovative solutions, and much needed technologies to support the growth of the textile industry in the US. From a raw bale of cotton will come thread, engineered textiles, mildew-proof duck, fashion fabrics, and more. The shear breadth of technical understanding is thoroughly amazing, and the output unparalleled. While it is unfortunate more of this industry has not remained in the US, we should all be thankful for the hard work and diligent efforts these folks have made in building a world leader in textiles.

Of particular interest to me was the fact that the College of Textiles can work from 'molecule to market' - a completely vertically integrated supply chain within the four walls of the college. Remarkable in this day and age to see an industry so decimated by offshore competition thriving and succeeding in delivering the next great engineered solution. NC State is literally a beacon of hope in this still struggling fabric industry in the US. While academics and industry do sometimes collide, here we see a representation of where the two are paired perfectly. My only hope is that industry sees the remarkable value of NC State's College of Textiles and rewards it by investing further. Of concern was the fact that so few of our largest industry stalwarts seemed to represent themselves within the College. I hope that changes soon...

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