RDECOM, University of Delaware develop research, education partnerships
Dale Ormond, director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, explains the command's work to University of Delaware officials at Newark, Del., July 3.

NEWARK, Del. -- The U.S. Army science and technology community is bolstering its relationship with the University of Delaware through research partnerships and graduate-school offerings, officials said during a meeting on the school's campus July 3.

INCREASING OFFERINGS FOR GRADUATE-SCHOOL PROGRAMS

Aberdeen Proving Ground, located 35 miles from the university, has added thousands of high-tech civilian and contractor jobs as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure, which concluded in September 2011.

Dale Ormond, director of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, praised UD's efforts to bring graduate education to the Army installation. APG houses RDECOM headquarters and three of the command's seven research centers.

"In the Aberdeen area, there is not a lot of capability in terms of graduate-level education compared with what I think will eventually be the need and demand," Ormond said. "What you are doing to enhance the capability is incredibly important for us to build a more competent and professional workforce."

Mark Mirotznik, a professor in the school's electrical and computer engineering department and coordinator for the school's courses at APG, said UD's College of Engineering has been steadily increasing the selection and number of classes.

UD taught the first course at APG in the fall of 2009 and now offers part-time master's and doctorate degree programs on the installation, he said. The university sends full-time faculty to teach two to three courses per semester across five engineering and computer science disciplines.

Forty-three APG students, primarily federal government employees and a small number of defense contractors, enrolled during the spring 2012 semester, Mirotznik said. The university hopes to offer courses via video teleconferencing for those outside APG.

RESEARCH PARTNERSHIP YIELDS SIGNIFICANT RESULTS

RDECOM and UD formalized their relationship in January 2010 when Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, RDECOM's commander at the time, and UD President Pat Harker signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement.

Harker said the CRADA has resulted in 19 research projects at the university through individual statements of work.

"This reflects the mutual interests and strengths that we share across both institutions, plus the fact that we are so close geographically," Harker said.

UD professors explained their broad range of research to the RDECOM team, which included Ormond; John Pellegrino, acting technical director of Army Research Laboratory; Jill Smith, technical director of Communications--Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; and Suzanne Milchling, program integration director of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

The university is conducting research with each of RDECOM's seven centers. Research topics include composite materials; embedded electronics systems; power and energy; orthotic devices for Wounded Warriors; cybersecurity; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

"What you are doing in energy, power and environment fits into a lot of the things we are doing as well," Ormond said. "How to create power, store power and use power are very high priorities for the Army."

NEW 272-ACRE CAMPUS FOR SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY

The university's plans for the Science Technology and Advanced Research, or STAR, Campus demonstrates a significant investment in its faculty and students, Harker said.

UD purchased the 272-acre Chrysler Newark Assembly Plant for $24 million in December 2009. The school demolished the existing 4 million square feet of facilities remaining from the automaker.

Harker said the STAR Campus tenants will focus on energy and environmental technologies, health and life sciences, and national security and defense.

Site developers will be required to be open to faculty research or student internships. Bloom Energy, a California-based company that specializes in solid oxide fuel cells, broke ground April 30 on a manufacturing facility that will employ 900 workers over 50 acres.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware said the Chrysler plant closing was difficult for the state, but the new technology campus is an opportunity for growth in the region.

"One of my jobs as governor and now as senator has been to create a nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation," Carper said. "One of the ways we do that is to foster partnerships such as we have with RDECOM."

A key part of the revitalization project at the STAR Campus will be a redesigned train station, which was announced June 22 as a result of a $10 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant and other state and local funding, Carper said.

Carper said he hopes to eventually use MARC trains to close the gap in commuter rail service between Perryville, Md., and Newark.

Page last updated Fri July 6th, 2012 at 13:30