Wright State-led initiative to create 250 aerospace, defense jobs

Photo of Dr. Hopkins at a podium

Wright State President David R. Hopkins announced the initiative at a news conference Sept. 15.

Wright State University will partner with industry in a new initiative to grow Ohio’s aerospace and defense workforce by the direct creation of 250 jobs, officials announced today.

The new jobs stem from the award of $11.4 million in July to the Wright State Research Institute’s Defense Aerospace Graduate Studies Institute, and will be created once the state releases the funds and other related incentives are in place.

The employers are members of the WSRI-led Human Performance Consortium, which includes the Dayton Development Coalition and a number of area defense-related companies and other institutions with a variety of skills and resources. The consortium was organized to support the work of the Air Force Research Laboratory and the 711th Human Performance Wing.

The initiative will result in the creation of 100 jobs by Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) and 50 jobs by Radiance Technologies. WSRI itself will create 50 jobs. And members of the consortium will create 50 more in addition to the jobs announced by SAIC and Radiance, which are also consortium members.

Wright State is a well-established leader in developing and offering programs that meet the region’s aerospace and defense needs. The university conducts a broad base of related research that leads to commercialization and produces a pipeline rich with talent to feed Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and defense-related businesses.

In July, the university announced that the Wright State Research Institute, through its Defense Aerospace Graduate Studies Institute, will work with its sister institutions of higher education to develop aerospace-related programs and professional certifications that better align workforce development and research and technology commercialization with job creation and economic development.

The effort will be funded by $11.4 million contained in the biennial budget signed by Gov. John Kasich and was largely the result of efforts by State Sens. Chris Widener, Shannon Jones, Peggy Lehner and Bill Beagle.

“Funding for this effort never would have happened without the support of these four senators, who know how crucial it is to provide the resources that will grow jobs for Dayton, the region and the state,” said Wright State President David R. Hopkins.

Hopkins said the senators felt that Wright State and WSRI were in the strongest position to provide the necessary leadership for the initiative.

Photo of Chris Widener

Funding for this initiative was largely the result of efforts by State Sens. Chris Widener (pictured), Shannon Jones, Peggy Lehner and Bill Beagle

“We need to do everything humanly possible to create more jobs in the Miami Valley,” said Widener.

“Aerospace and defense companies require a highly skilled workforce, and this commitment by these companies shows that Ohio can provide it,” said Lehner, chair of the Senate Education Committee. “By investing in workforce development in this sector, we are providing a foundation for the continued growth of Ohio’s economy.”

Beagle said the state needs to attack the jobs problem on all fronts and that funding the economic-development initiative is one way to do that.

“This will help train people for important work that is vital for government and other employers,” Beagle said. “We need to make sure we have the workforce necessary for our employers so they don’t have to go to other states looking for people.”

Officials announced the new jobs during a press conference at Wright State on September 15. Dennis Andersh, SAIC senior vice president and Dayton regional executive, said the new jobs will be in addition to the 200 new jobs the company announced earlier this year.

Andersh said SAIC has demonstrated its commitment to the region and job growth in Ohio by moving its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems to Springfield. He said the new funds from Ohio will support SAIC’s collaborative effort with the research institute in UAV research and development, flight testing, sensor system integration, human-machine interface technologies and autonomous operations.
“Each of these initiatives has been identified by the Air Force as a critical priority and will help provide jobs opportunities in the region,” Andersh said.

Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition, said investment to support workforce development initiatives like this are critical and position the region to win a greater market share of aerospace contracts for Ohio companies.

Bill Bailey, senior vice president, Radiance Technologies, said his company will support job growth in the Dayton region and its work with the Advanced Technical Intelligence Center, Air Force Research Laboratory, National Air and Space Intelligence Center and community partners to develop better research platforms, testing and tools for the defense intelligence community. By co-investing with the state funding, he said, Radiance will add at least 50 new jobs in the Dayton region to better serve its customers at Wright-Patterson.

S. Narayanan, executive director of the research institute and dean of Wright State’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, said the initiative will also fuel economic development through technology commercialization and human performance research aligned with the emerging areas of research at Wright-Patterson.

“This funding from the state will help build a robust academic-industrial collaborative aimed at developing the infrastructure necessary to deliver technology-based solutions to support the needs of the warfighter,” Narayanan said.

The Wright State Research Institute is the university’s gateway to its research capabilities and a mechanism for creating collaborative teams to solve problems facing the Air Force, aerospace industry and others. Wright State University was awarded the $11.4 million after winning a pair of five-year contracts totaling $6.4 million in December.

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