May 16, 2023
When the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate wanted to build a collaborative research space near Eglin Air Force Base, it turned to the University of Florida.
UF’s Applied Research in Engineering (FLARE) program, which is the applied and classified research arm of the university’s engineering college, collaborated with AFRL and other experts to design the facility. FLARE’s National Security Program Area Lead David Bragg oversaw its construction, and in late 2021, the state-of-the-art, 6,000-square-foot space was opened. Now, a team of about 26 Eglin personnel uses the facility to conduct research.
“This is a great example of how we can bridge the gap between the innovative research and robust, fieldable solutions that the Department of Defense is in need of,” says FLARE Director Richard Vigeant.
Research universities are hubs for innovation and discovery, and research partnerships between universities and the Defense Department are mutually beneficial.
The DOD benefits from working with world-class researchers to innovate and develop engineering and technological advances that are important to the nation’s defense, while also developing a talent pipeline.
“Universities bring thought leadership from neutral, academic subject matter experts into these national security projects,” says Veronica Onorevole, director of innovative global education initiatives at the American Association of Colleges and Universities. “What the government gains from having universities involved in research, as opposed to going straight to the private sector, is that it adds public representation and brings in perspectives that may not be factored in or would be missed if they weren’t included.”