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AFTAC continues cooperative R&D agreement with FIT

Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden (left) and Dr. Gisele Bennett (right) prepare to renew the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between the Air Force Technical Applications Center and the Florida Institute of Technology March 1, 2019 on the FIT campus in Melbourne, Florida.  Sjoden, AFTAC's chief scientist, and Bennett, FIT's senior vice president for research, signed the CRADA to allow for scientific collaboration between the two organizations.  (Florida Institute of Technology photo by Adam Lowenstein)

Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden (left) and Dr. Gisele Bennett (right) prepare to renew the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between the Air Force Technical Applications Center and the Florida Institute of Technology March 1, 2019 on the FIT campus in Melbourne, Florida. Sjoden, AFTAC's chief scientist, and Bennett, FIT's senior vice president for research, signed the CRADA to allow for scientific collaboration between the two organizations. (Florida Institute of Technology photo by Adam Lowenstein)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. The Air Force Technical Applications Center here renewed its cooperative research and development agreement with Florida Institute of Technology March 1 at a symbolic signing held at the university’s Melbourne, Florida, campus. 

A CRADA is a government contract allowing for R&D collaboration between federal laboratories and non-federal entities to provide quick, unique access to extensive government-funded research that can be leveraged by both parties to yield powerful, scientific results. 

AFTAC entered into its initial CRADA with FIT in 2016 to explore high performance cloud computing, modeling and simulation.  The agreement tasks the nuclear treaty monitoring center with providing subject matter expertise in nuclear analysis and event detection, and tasks the university with performing research in pattern recognition, machine learning, high-performance computing, information assurance and geophysical monitoring and simulation – all in a secure environment. 

Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden, AFTAC’s chief scientist, partnered with Dr. Gisele Bennett, FIT’s senior vice president for research, to conduct an annual review of the three-year agreement to ensure all requirements by both parties were being met.  Once the two senior representatives concurred with the contents of the CRADA, both the university and the treaty monitoring center agreed to renew the CRADA for another three years. 

“This agreement is of great benefit to the Air Force,” said Dr. Dan DeForest, AFTAC’s director of Strategic Integration. “The partnership enhances our diversity of technology and ideas and exposes the students at Florida’s premier independent technological university to our cadre of highly-skilled scientists and engineers.  We’re then able to tap into the vast and diverse academic resource right here in our backyard, which creates a pipeline of potential STEM recruits to fill positions within the center. 

He added, “The participation of senior leadership from AFTAC and FIT speaks to the importance both sides have placed on this partnership.” 

The CRADA has evolved since its inception three years ago.  Originally focused on cloud computing, it has since 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. 

“Florida Tech has incredible capability and resources to offer and I believe we have just scratched the surface,” said Sjoden.  “As the familiarity with AFTAC’s mission grows, I expect FIT will establish new connections with its researchers to provide exponential growth of knowledge and collaborative research for AFTAC, while simultaneously establishing a firm foothold in the arena of classified university research.  It is a win-win for everyone involved.” 

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