Bud Peterson came to Gainesville last week to shake some hands, talk up Georgia Tech and do a little fundraising.
But the university president’s visit to Gainesville — the last stop on a summer tour of Georgia cities — was motivated by a more basic reason.
In 10 years of doing the tours, Peterson said he noticed “there are a lot of people around the state that really don’t know that much about Georgia Tech. We are a public institution, supported by the state … and we need to represent the whole state.”
He met with about 80 alumni and others Thursday, June 21, at Scott’s Downtown restaurant in Gainesville, giving updates on key programs and initiatives — especially those with local impact.
With 84 of Georgia Tech’s students coming from Hall County schools, “you (primarily) think about places like Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia as educational institutions,” Peterson said in an interview before the alumni gathering.
“But we have an economic development mission and then we do research. I view our role as multifaceted.”
One key effort affecting Gainesville and Hall County is the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which helps companies improve their manufacturing processes, improve efficiency and address safety and quality.
King’s Hawaiian bakery in Oakwood “wanted to increase their production process here, so they came to us, and we helped them … add more lines,” Peterson said.
Georgia Tech has 55 area projects underway.
Also important for Hall County is Georgia Tech’s Agricultural Technology Research Program, which works closely with the poultry industry.
Georgia Tech research involves robotics in chicken processing, particularly in deboning.
“Every bird is different. You look at feedback sensors so you know when you’ve hit a bone,” Peterson said. “So, how can you process a bird robotically with minimal waste?”
Another project “has to deal with how much water do you need to use to process a bird,” Peterson said. “Water’s a big deal in Georgia.”
Also, Georgia Tech’s Procurement Assistance Center, based in the Featherbone Communiversity, 999 Chestnut St. SE, Gainesville, helps Georgia businesses identify, compete for and win government contracts. Services are available at no cost.