Office of the President
Dr. Patrick T. Harker is the 26th president of the University of Delaware. He also serves as professor of business administration in the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering.
R&D Partnership Agreement Signing/UD & U.S. Army RDECOM
Gore Recital Hall
January 26, 2010
Good morning, and welcome to the University of Delaware.
This is an incredibly important day for UD and our developing partnership with the U.S. Army. But before I get into exactly why, I’d like to acknowledge some of the distinguished visitors with us this morning who’ve helped make it possible.
Major General Nick Justice is commanding general of the U.S. Army’s Research, Development, and Engineering Command—or, as the Army calls it, RDECOM. (I’ve learned it’s imperative to get the acronyms right.) He is also installation commander of the Aberdeen Proving Ground. General Justice, we’re honored to have you here.
I’m delighted to acknowledge Gary Martin, executive deputy to the commander of RDECOM. Also with us today is John Miller, director of the Army Research Laboratory. And I welcome Gary Blohm, director of the Army’s Communications–Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center, or CERDEC.
We also have several Delaware dignitaries joining us this morning. I’d like to recognize Governor Jack Markell and U.S. Representative Mike Castle. Plus, Newark Mayor Vance Funk and State Senator Liane Sorenson.
I thank Delaware State University President Harry Williams for joining us. And because this is truly a regional partnership—one that will involve and benefit not just Delaware but several states surrounding it—I’m thrilled to extend a special welcome to Cecil College President Stephen Pannill, a valued colleague and potential partner in this important undertaking.
Finally, I’d like to point out that there are several UD students with us this morning. They’ll be closely involved in the cooperative research we’re planning, and I thank them for joining us.
Importance of Partnership
As I just said, this is an important day for the University of Delaware. Nearly two years ago, the University embarked on an ambitious strategic plan. A critical component of that plan is to build UD’s knowledge-based assets and, through partnerships, deploy those assets to benefit our partners, ourselves—and, of course, the communities in which we reside.
Leadership for this mission lies with the University’s Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships, led by our emcee-of-sorts this morning, David Weir. I want to thank David and his staff for identifying and cultivating these partnership opportunities and for building an infrastructure that supports them.
It’s hard to imagine a partnership with more promise than the one we’re establishing with Aberdeen Proving Ground—one whose benefits could affect more people or affect them more critically. And, really, strategic collaboration between our two organizations makes sense: Our core research strengths align well, and we have a long and successful history working with one another. Of course, physical proximity also makes this partnership a good fit: UD is the closest Category 1 research university to APG. In short, we’re well positioned for a close working relationship.
And so in the fall of 2008, we met with Gary Martin, whom I introduced earlier, along with senior leadership in RDECOM. We wanted to initiate an interactive process with the Army in order to understand its needs in terms of research, education, and professional and career development. Those conversations were illuminating, and necessary for what would come next—developing and customizing the University’s capabilities to meet the Army’s needs. That work has begun in earnest.
For example, next month, Drs. Mark Mirotznik and Dennis Prather, both professors in our Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will begin teaching an electrical engineering course on-site at Aberdeen Proving Ground. And last fall, the University’s Career Services Center, under the leadership of Joyce Henderson, worked with APG’s Software Engineering Center and with CERDEC to admit two graduate students and four undergraduates to the Student Career Experience Program. The program is a windfall for admitted students, providing them full graduate tuition, a stipend, unparalleled skill development, internship opportunities, and guaranteed employment upon graduation. Last year, the Army hired a total of twenty-three UD students—either through the Student Career Experience Program or as full-time employees.
These collaborative initiatives have been extraordinarily valuable, and they set the stage for today’s signing ceremony, which I consider a capstone to the conversations we’ve had over the past eighteen months.
Today, we’ll sign two documents. The first is a CRADA—a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement. The CRADA provides the legal basis for scientists and engineers in both organizations to more efficiently work together. Ultimately, that means developing cooperative projects that will result in state-of-the-art capability and support to the war-fighter.
Together, we will create cutting-edge science, and perhaps discover the next major transformational technology. The CRADA will drive interdisciplinary and inter-laboratory collaborations between—and within— our respective organizations. It will enrich our educational capabilities and lead to important economic-development opportunities through high-tech startups and spinoffs.
As most of you are aware, UD recently acquired a substantial piece of land formerly owned by the Daimler-Chrysler Corporation. We believe our formalized partnership with APG will be an important influence on the property’s transformation into a major center of innovative science, technology, and engineering, and a dynamic incubator of new entrepreneurial businesses.
In fact, the site’s potential to foster collaboration among regional science & technology leaders and to generate new businesses based on proliferating innovation is one of its most exciting aspects. I thank the Governor and Delaware’s Congressional delegation for their strong and continued support of this mission.
But, as I said before, the potential benefits of this partnership are enormous, reaching well beyond our organizations, and beyond our respective states. It’s a national imperative with truly global implications.
To articulate the long-term outcomes really driving our efforts, it’s maybe easiest to invoke CERDEC’s vision statement, which I’m paraphrasing a bit … To employ the imagination and innovation of our brightest professionals to provide America’s soldiers the most effective solutions—ensuring mission success and their safe return home.
I speak on behalf of the entire University of Delaware community when I say we couldn’t be more honored to play a small part in this critical task.
Statement of Work
We’ll also be signing a second document today—one that shows how serious our intentions are, and how far we’ve already come in this planning process. That document is a Cooperative Statement of Work to be carried out under the CRADA.
The work will focus on antenna technology and composite materials, and will involve two Army research centers—CERDEC and the Army Research Laboratory—alongside the University’s Center for Composite Materials, which in 1996 was named an ARL Materials Center of Excellence, one of just three in the nation.
Representatives from these organizations are with us this morning, and I’d like to recognize them once again: John Miller, director of the Army Research Laboratory; Gary Blohm, director of CERDEC; and our own Jack Gillespie, director of UD’s Center for Composite Materials.
Gentlemen, I appreciate all the hard work that’s already gone into this partnership, and I congratulate you.
The University of Delaware’s strategic plan, our Path to Prominence, is predicated, in part, on three enduring principles: partnership, engagement, and impact. This collaboration with the Aberdeen Proving Ground significantly advances all three.
I look forward to great things in the months and years ahead as we work together toward common goals and shared benefit, and I thank all of you here for what you have done—and what you will do—to make this partnership a success.