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UCF To Help Local Space Industry, State Economy

ORLANDO, Nov. 15, 2010 – The University of Central Florida will offer two new programs to retrain residents who lose their jobs as the space shuttle program ends, thanks in part to grants from the Florida Board of Governors of the State University System.

UCF received five grants worth about $1.3 million for projects that will help strengthen education, research and Florida’s economy.

The grants are part of the 2010 New Florida Initiative program. The goal of the program is to create partnerships among universities in the areas of health, science and engineering while creating high-wage jobs.

Eleven universities were awarded $10 million for 31 projects. The grants were announced Monday.

Grants awarded to UCF cover space technology, nanoscience, workfoce development, engineering and medicine.

“From aerospace to nanotechnology and biomedical engineering, UCF has built solid research foundations in several areas that are already transitioning to the marketplace,” said MJ Soileau, UCF’s vice president for Research and Commercialization. “We are excited about the potential statewide impact of these projects."  

UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science will use one grant to create a Florida Center of Excellence in Advanced Aero-propulsion in partnership with Florida State University.

This grant establishes two training programs that will aid local residents who may lose their jobs due to the changes at NASA. Specifically, certificate programs will be offered in the areas of active flow and noise control, which play critical roles in today’s aerospace, propulsion and power-generation industries.

The grant also will pay for research initiatives aimed at developing innovative engineering technology. The technology is expected to create jobs and new companies helping Florida’s economy. One area of particular interest is wind tunnel technology. A portion of the grant also will help sponsor a weeklong summer engineering camp for high school students interested in this field.

Another grant will help UCF’s Department of Physics work with Space Florida and the Kennedy Space Center to create a Center for Microgravity Research. The goal is to establish Florida as an international center for microgravity research, a new area with plenty of economic opportunities.

Working together, the groups will grow and develop the new commercial suborbital spaceflight industry in Florida. More flights provide scientists with a great opportunity to conduct more regular research that will likely have global applications.

“This day marks the realization of a vision we announced in partnership with the Legislature that we would ensure our State University System both pursues and achieves our obligation to help transform Florida’s economy into one that is sustainable and knowledge-based, featuring high-skill and high-wage jobs,” said Ava L. Parker, chair of the Florida Board of Governors.

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