Tuesday, September 30, 2014

University system poised to establish stronger presence in Southern Maryland

Drone research is a ‘huge, unrealized opportunity in this region’
Staff writer
September 26, 2014
Southern Maryland News

William “Brit” Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland, said Tuesday that a new unmanned aerial vehicle test site and plans for a research center in St. Mary’s herald a new era in the region for the state’s public colleges.

“We plan to substantially grow our presence in the region,” he said Tuesday during a keynote address at the annual Southern Maryland Navy Alliance dinner in Historic St. Mary’s City. The university is “already making this vision a reality.”

The university has agreed to gradually assume leadership of the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center, currently run by an independent board and located in California just across from the St. Mary’s County Regional Airport.

Kirwan anticipates that a third building housing academic studies, business incubation and research could be open on the existing campus as soon as the spring of 2018. Even before that time, Kirwan said, university faculty will begin creating a hub advancing the development and use of unmanned systems, commonly called drones.

It is an effort he said could be as successful as the higher education center at Shady Grove in Montgomery County, where educators have helped build an academic and commercial bioscience culture around the existing National Institutes of Health. In Southern Maryland, Kirwan said, the higher education center could grow with the help of technology developed at Patuxent River Naval Air Station and businesses looking to support that work’s application to commercial purposes.

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