Florida Tech, AFTAC Renew Research Partnership

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Tech and the Air Force Technical Applications Center have renewed for the third time a research and development agreement that will have the two organizations continuing their collaboration on a host of technological areas.

Leaders from AFTAC and Florida Tech held a ceremonial signing of the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) on Nov. 15 at the university. A CRADA is a government contract allowing for research and development collaboration between federal laboratories and non-federal entities to provide quick exchanges of research that can be leveraged by both parties to yield powerful scientific results.

“This partnership is extremely important for us, extremely valuable for us, and we are proud to have this level of partnership in this area,” said Marco Carvalho, executive vice president, provost and COO of Florida Tech and one of the three signatories on the agreement. “So thank you for being colleagues, thank you for working with us and giving us the opportunity to be involved in important research that can benefit the country.”

AFTAC Commander Col. James Finlayson, also a signatory, said, “As our hometown partner of choice, I realize this is the third CRADA we have with you. We want to do whatever we can to strengthen that relationship. We do see in the graduates and the students that you have here the future of our workforce.”

The third signatory is AFTAC’s Director of Strategic Integration Daniel DeForest. “Since we’ve started with FIT, we’ve added a couple of Florida universities, but none of the universities have the special relationship FIT does,” he said, “for some obvious reasons – proximity is one of those – but also because of the interest levels and the breadth of the research that you guys do that applies to us. We are hoping to grow this relationship so now we start pulling more of your graduates into AFTAC.”

AFTAC Chief Scientist William Junek is a Florida Tech alumnus. He said at the signing ceremony, “It gives me great pleasure to come back here and work with faculty, staff and students on all types of research and development efforts that benefit the AFTAC mission. I am delighted to see the CRADA moving forward and really looking forward to continuing the partnership that we’ve built over the last several years.”

First executed in 2016 and then renewed in 2019, the CRADA has evolved since its inception. Originally focused on cloud computing, it has expanded to encompass all of AFTAC’s mission sets (geophysical, nuclear materials and detonations, prompt diagnostics, and atmosphere and space operations), along with cross-cutting areas of innovation and environmental science.

According to the agreement, it is estimated the Air Force will save more than $500,000 from the collaborative efforts between the two organizations.

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