ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Calling the growth and development taking place in the northern Chesapeake Bay area "amazing," University of Maryland leaders met with the senior APG commander Oct. 18 to discuss an expansion of the university's presence to better serve the educational needs of an evolving workforce.

"The institution realizes the need to be here," Dr. Brit Kirwan, chancellor of The University System of Maryland, told Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, installation commanding general.

The meeting was the first in the new Boeing corporate offices at The GATE Office and Technology Park, according to Edward St. John, president of St. John Properties, who welcomed the group.

Also attending were: former State Sen. Frank X. Kelly, a member of the Board of Regents, The University System of Maryland; Patrick Hogan, associate vice chancellor for Government Relations, The University System of Maryland; Jerry Wit, senior vice president of St. John Properties, and Sharon Akers, executive director of the Edward St. John Foundation.

Calling an expanded university presence at APG "a good talking point," Justice said such a measure would have a considerable and lasting impact.

"What we need to do is create our own chamber of commerce," Justice said, outlining the business process he would like to have in place to field such endeavors. "We need an opportunity to come to you with a strategic plan of what we need. I can tell you what I need, but I can't tell you the quantities that I need for a sustained effort."

Justice said he would frame a strategic plan for the educators, and address the educational needs of all installation stakeholders.

"We're going to move out and develop a strategic plan for you, with the intent that - and I'm speaking for my industry partners - what we want to do is offer classes here so they don't have to commute to the campuses. I need to be able to guarantee you a student population, and I can't do that alone," he said.

Kirwan agreed with Justice's goals.

"That's very important, and I'm delighted to hear you say that," Kirwan said.

"This is exactly what we need. We need to know what areas of study and what the demand is. We can really tailor our response to meet the needs, and that's what we want, to align your needs with our program management."

Justice was supportive of bringing university offerings on board, and drew parallels to North Carolina's Research Triangle Park as he discussed the economic and cultural impact APG will have in Maryland's future.

"The workforce at APG will be a continuing requirement," Justice said. "This will create something far bigger than people realize right now.

"When you see BRAC come together and the second- and third-order spinouts, it reminds me of the Research Triangle Park that has been the catalyst for the whole economic environment of the state.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command and the University of Maryland signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement Sept. 28. The CRADA, as it is called, provides for an open exchange of ideas between the two institutions.