CALUMET, Mich. (WZMQ) – For the last 70 years, the Keweenaw Research Center has stayed out of the public eye. Friday, to celebrate its milestone, the KRC opened its doors to the public, an extremely rare occurrence.
The center is tucked away next to the Houghton County Memorial Airport on a 900-acre piece of property. The center was actually there before the airport was even built. With miles of trail’s and dozens of vehicles the Keweenaw research center is at the forefront of innovation
The systems are top secret, and generally no photography or video is allowed inside the facility. However, an exception was made for the celebration when it came to one of their newer buildings.
“You wanna get vehicles cold and then you test them,” remarked KRC Director Scott Bradley.
Vehicles get cold by spending time in the cold room test facility. The building will reach temperatures up to -50 degrees. The purpose of the room is to be able to simulate even the harshest environments a vehicle might see.
“Primarily we create an engineering environment where students can augment their educational career,” added Bradley.
The center is also developing ways for military vehicles to withstand blasts from improvised explosive devices. Students from Michigan Tech, which oversees the center, are given the chance to work directly on these projects. It provides critical hands-on experience for the students who are guided by a staff of engineers.
“It’s pretty cool to have some sort of impact on how these systems get implemented,” said Nick Mckenzie, a MTU student.
Currently around 70% of the centers projects are for the U.S. Military, but the center also does work with clients like John Deere and other private companies to test equipment. The climate and terrain in the Keweenaw makes the area ideal for the center.
“Were not desert, were not deep south swamps, but we have snow, we have cold, we have summer, northern climates,” commented Bradley.
The facility had a lot on display today, but according to Bradley it’s just a small peek into what the center is working on.