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Research Center Established at the University of Tennessee Space Institute

Over the past few years, members of the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI), the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) and the University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) have been working towards the establishment of a strategic technology research and development organization to support economic development and UTSI’s mission. During September 2011, The Center for Advanced Scientific Support and Engineering Technology (ASSET.TN) was established on the campus of UTSI as a 501(c)(3) organization affiliated with UTRF. In October 2012, ASSET.TN implemented its first financial agreement and became operationally effective early this year.

The focus of ASSET.TN is on technology development, engineering, and scientific support for the purposes of complementing the Space Institute’s educational and research capabilities. Ahmad Vakili, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UTSI, has been actively involved in the development of ASSET.TN. According to Vakili, “as a non-profit organization, ASSET.TN overcomes publicly funded university limitations for technology development types of research with funding and growth opportunities, creating a mechanism for a different level of engagement with its customers and the Department of Defense and will help to facilitate new types of opportunities for UT, the Space Institute and other organizations.”

There are many similar non-profit centers in operation where companies work closely with their affiliated universities and have jointly become quite successful. Such companies have become a symbol of adjunct support for academic accomplishments, generating advanced technologies that lead to technology jobs.

The processes involved are typically through developing applications from intellectual properties created by affiliated academic institutions, individual entrepreneurs and industrial partners. Transitioning such technologies into products contributes to the communities, facilitating technology companies to be supported directly and indirectly, and to help their growth by providing services that frequently smaller companies do not have readily available in order for them to compete against their peers located in well-established industrialized regions. Other resources, such as faculty and staff, as well as access to facilities and laboratories, can be made available through coordinated agreements that benefit all parties involved.

Robert Moore, UTSI Executive Director, remarked “ASSET.TN will help facilitate participation by UTSI faculty, students and technical staff in real engineering projects, while contributing to the economic growth of the region and communities located the Tennessee Valley Corridor.”

For more information about ASSET.TN, contact 931-393-7483.