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Russ Research Center to support $195 million U.S. Air Force consortium project

Colleen Carow | Feb 13, 2019

Russ Research Center to support $195 million U.S. Air Force consortium project

Colleen Carow | Feb 13, 2019

Ohio University’s Russ Research Center will be home to a new consortium focused on some of the U.S. Air Force’s most crucial research priorities, including autonomy, precision navigation and timing (PNT), and cyber-physical systems security.

The Air Force Autonomy Research Network Consortium (ARCNet), which will be administered by SP Global Institute (SPGI), was created with a $195 million award from the U.S. Air Force’s Aerospace Systems Directorate. OHIO and up to 200 universities and industry partners will comprise membership in ARCNet. OHIO, via the Russ Research Center in Beavercreek, Ohio, is providing operational space for SPGI.

OHIO President M. Duane Nellis said the university has been involved in the initiative since its earliest stages of development.

“We recognized from the outset that ARCNet aligns with many of OHIO’s research strengths, including airborne autonomous vehicles, avionics and navigation systems and cybersecurity,” President Nellis said. “Co-locating the ARCNet consortium at the Russ Research Center, which is the university’s gateway to the Miami Valley and Wright Patterson Air Force Base, will enable our researchers and students to develop these technologies alongside some of our country’s most innovative industry partners.”

According to ARCNet Director Ken Wall, the consortium’s thrust areas will strengthen the national aerospace autonomy industrial base.

“Each consortium project must have value-add for the Air Force and other sponsoring branches of the federal government, as well as for consortium members, and also must have demonstrated return-on-investment,” Wall said.

Michael Deis, director of OHIO’s Avionics Engineering Center and director of business development for the Russ Research Center, both part of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, said the university will benefit from more access to research opportunities with the Air Force Research Lab, which is near the Russ Research Center, and other government agencies that will bring research topics to the consortium. This means more engagement for students, and more development for faculty and staff. 

“The research areas of autonomy, PNT and cyber-physical systems are in the sweet spot of research capabilities in the Russ College, and in other colleges across Ohio University,” he said. “As the university wins research projects under the consortium, our students, faculty and staff will have opportunities to work on cutting-edge technologies in support of the Air Force and other agencies.”

The grant will fund research, development, prototyping and commercialization. SPGI can also license SP Global Inc.’s Transformative Corporate Formation (TCF) model, which speeds up not only the commercialization process with minimum investment to market, but also improves the speed of transferring new technology to airmen, soldiers, sailors and marines. The relationship also connects companies to the SP Global’s TCF venture fund.

“This is an exciting announcement for SPGI and for our many partners, including Ohio University and the Russ Research Center in Beavercreek,” said SPGI Vice President Tim Shaw. “Our team has spent the past 18 months focusing all SPGI’s efforts on designing a revolutionary consortium that centers on our members bringing the best in autonomy innovation to the Air Force and to our war fighters.”