USF engineering students contracted to develop satellite payloads for U.S. Special Operations Command
TAMPA, Fla. (May 16, 2017) – Engineering students at the University of South Florida will soon play an integral role in helping boost communication capabilities of the U.S. military.
Through a new contract with SOFWERX, USF will support the development and integration of secondary payloads for the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Cube Satellite mission. The partnership was announced today at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) at the Tampa Convention Center.
Payloads, devices that contain technology such as cameras and sensors, will be shot into low Earth orbit from the Kennedy Space Station within the next 12-18 months. The payloads will help the U.S. military solve battlefield problems by providing real-time communication.
“If satellites are becoming more capable and yet smaller, cheaper, require less power, more technology packed into small areas, that really is the future. It’s a future of communications, future of weather, it’s the future for remote sensing. So for us to be at that the leading edge, it’s going to be a good thing for the state of Florida and for Tampa Bay and the nation,” said Robert H. Bishop, PhD, P.E, dean of the USF College of Engineering.
SOFWERX is a new, unclassified facility in Ybor City that conducts research and development for SOCOM, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. SOCOM is part of the Department of Defense overseeing various special operations of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. The proximity between SOFWERX and SOCOM provides a great opportunity for USF.
“I’ve been enthralled by space ever since I was a little kid, so being able to do meaningful research work now it’s a just been a dream. I’m literally living my dream, it’s hard not to love it,” says Peter Jorgensen, graduate research assistant in the USF Department of Electrical Engineering.
Jorgensen is the first student to be involved in the Cube Satellite project, and a postdoctoral fellow will soon join him.
USF already has an existing partnership with SOFWERX, overseeing a robust year-round undergraduate intern program. The program offers students the opportunity to solve the most difficult problems facing Special Operation Forces.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, established in 1956 and located in Tampa, is a high-impact, global research university dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three, separately accredited institutions: USF; USF St. Petersburg; and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 49,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is ranked in the Top 30 nationally for research expenditures among public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2016, the Florida Legislature designated USF as “Emerging Preeminent,” placing USF in an elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.