The Marvin heritage at UND thrives with research collaborations


David L. Dodds

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The Marvin heritage at UND thrives with research collaborations

The Marvin family has played a special and storied role in the history of UND.

Most of that history was made in the athletic arena — specifically hockey — as the names of Marvin family members who've donned the kelly green-and-white jerseys have become legendary at UND.

But there's also a growing relationship between the Marvins and UND in the business world and in the research lab.

Proximity and resources

Marvin Windows and Doors, the family business based in Warroad, Minn., has looked in recent years to UND to provide research expertise and analysis on a number of different projects, according to Stephen Fisher, a 1987 UND alumnus and consulting engineer for Marvin's research and development material and building science team.

The reason is simple: UND is the closest full-scope research and development institution with the resources and talent to test products and applications in preparation for the marketplace.

Fisher observed that it's like having a company laboratory right in Marvin's backyard without having to own it or run it.

"It's a pattern that has been shown to really work, and I'd like to keep it up," he said.

A long, positive relationship

Marvin's use of UND resources has been fairly widespread in recent years. The company has worked with the school's Regional Weather Information Center on weather-impact analyses, the Mechanical Engineering Department on design projects, the Energy & Environmental Research Center on materials testing, and the Mathematics Department when it needed a second opinion on some statistical analysis data.

"Marvin has a long and very positive relationship with UND," said Bob Evans, Marvin vice president of human resources. "The company recruits and hires graduates from UND in many disciplines, from accounting and human resources to manufacturing and engineering, for our facilities in Fargo and Grafton, N.D., and Warroad and Eagan, Minn.

"We appreciate the strong heritage and educational opportunities that UND provides its students, and it aligns with the culture, values and vision of Marvin."

Recently, Marvin has been working with Alena Kubatova, associate professor of chemistry, to research how environmental factors such as light, temperature, humidity, and time affect the stability of important fungicides in wood window frames. But before that, Kubatova and her student research group had to develop methods to determine the concentration levels of these wood protectants (fungicides).

"The ultimate goal of both studies was to allow us to better assure the durability of our product through more robust research methods," Fisher said.

Kubatova, along with several graduate and undergraduate students, started working on the Marvin projects in 2008. The students got valuable analytical and practical research experience.

Kubatova and her graduate students made weeklong trips to the company's Warroad factory to conduct on-site research where the wood window frames were produced.

"It's really kind of fun if you get a chance to do something like that," Kubatova said. "We were in a place where I could see exactly what they were doing and I could communicate directly with them."

Hands-on experience for students

Wayne Seames, a UND Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of chemical engineering who helped arrange the Chemistry Department's collaboration with Marvin, said that such projects are exactly what UND looks for because they're "student centered."

"That is our identity here at UND; that is exactly the model we have built," Seames said. "For UND faculty, research is an important teaching tool for the advanced education of scholars and researchers. The companies we work with recognize and value this aspect of the research we conduct with and for them."

Fisher said the company has been extremely satisfied with Kubatova and her students' work in and out of the laboratory: "The research has been valuable to Marvin, and the net effect has been very positive for both groups."

Fisher said new studies are currently being planned that will involve additional UND researchers and resources.

David Dodds

University Relations Writer/Editor

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