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Military research building started

Published: Sunday, July 12, 2009

Updated: Sunday, July 12, 2009 17:07

groundbreaking

Caitlin Bush

Despite gloomy weather, spirits were not dampened on Friday morning at the groundbreaking for a partnership building between UCF and the military in Central Florida Research Park.

The building will create thousands of jobs and also be the home to laboratories for a variety of modeling and simulation research.

Donning golden hard hats, President John C. Hitt, Orange County Commissioner Bill Segal, Sen. Dan Webster and Walt Disney World Resort President Meg Crofton, along with others involved with the project, lifted their shovels and broke ground on Partnership III.

There were 130 people in attendance, including military personnel and leaders of UCF, Orange County and the state.

Some of the research conducted in Partnership III will focus on improving medical care to save lives of military personnel and civilians. The research will also benefit law enforcement officers and emergency health care providers.

The partnership is unique because nowhere in the Department of Defense do the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps unite with academia and industry, said Rear Adm. Donald Gaddis, the assistant commander for Research and Engineering for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division.

"I can tell you that American military men and women around the world owe their lives to the work that is being done right here in Central Florida," Gaddis said. "The training systems [will] teach them to fight smarter, fight better and give them a greater chance of coming home alive."

The building will also house UCF's new high-performance computing cluster, which will enable thousands of people to engage in realistic training scenarios in the same virtual world.

Gaddis described the building as "another jewel in the crown of Central Florida high-tech community."

Webster said that not only is Central Florida the heart of Florida's "high-tech corridor," but also the world center for simulation.

Metro Orlando sustains the world's largest recognized cluster of modeling, simulation and training companies. Research Park is the 7th largest research park in the nation, with 2,700 Department of Defense personnel and direct support contractors. Collectively, those defense organizations manage $5.2 billion in contracts every year.

According to Randy Shumaker, director of the UCF Institute of Simulation and Training, Partnership III is a welcome addition because the institute is currently spread out in three buildings including Partnership II.

The building will provide more space for research projects.

There are currently about 100 projects, including study into creating rescue robots that rely less on manpower. There is also research being done on distributive team behavior — creating programs that could be used to train people how to quickly and effectively pull together a team in an emergency situation.

Shumaker said the research that IST conducts supports military training, so instead of the military doing research on their own, the two are able to combine their efforts.

SGA Vice President Andrick Lewis said that Partnership III will "increase the amount of research opportunities that students can participate in on campus, and will have a profound impact not only on graduate students, but undergraduate students as well."

The 118,860-square-foot building, scheduled to open in fall 2010, will be constructed next to Partnership II and will be a mirror image of that building, saving the state about $500,000 in design costs.

The budget for the building is $20 million, all of which was provided by the state and is separate from its allocations to UCF. No student tuition dollars are being used for the project, according to UCF News & Information.

Partnership III will also be built to meet at least the silver level of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. LEED is aimed at improving energy savings, water efficiency, carbon dioxide emissions reduction and indoor environmental quality.

To meet these standards, the building will include T-5 fluorescent lighting, occupancy sensors, and enhanced wall, roof and window insulation.

It will also have energy-efficient chilled water air-conditioning system, and a demand-control approach to ventilation, which brings more outside air into a space when many people are inside and less when there are few people present.

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