Oklahoma State University has created a new institute aimed at supporting aerospace industry growth in the Sooner State and beyond.
The Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education (OAIRE) was formally announced during a ceremony Wednesday in Oklahoma City. University officials said the goal of the institute is to unite the state’s aerospace innovation economy, which includes the university, commercial business, and military and government agencies, in an aerospace ecosystem that will generate high-tech jobs and cutting-edge research.
“Our mission is to drive cross-industry collaborations and innovation, which is exactly what brings us together today,” OSU President Kayse Shrum said during a news conference.
Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Innovation Elizabeth Pollard echoed Shrum’s excitement.
“The Oklahoma economy is at an inflection point,” she said. “Disruptive technology is changing the face of every industry and forcing all states to reassess how best to compete and remain relevant in a knowledge-based innovation economy.
“Innovation is the key driver to economic growth and prosperity. …It will grow and diversify our state economy, accelerate our state’s competitiveness and create large-scale, high-paying jobs for Oklahomans.”
Over the years, OSU—the largest and oldest aerospace engineering program in the state—has engaged in aerospace, defense, and aviation projects, conducting large-scale research with the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and Special Operations Command. OSU faculty members also conduct research with industry partners that include:
- Pratt and Whitney
- Frontier Electronics Corp.
- Vigilant Aerospace Systems
Paul Tikalsky, dean of OSU’s College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology, said OSU will have more than $80 million under contract this year related to aerospace and aerospace education.
OAIRE will also include K-12 outreach programs focused on STEM connections, building the aerospace workforce pipeline and promoting community involvement. Programming will include technical training, career placement and entrepreneurial opportunities for student engagement and retention. OSU will prioritize outreach to Native American and other underrepresented K-12 students with the goal of developing and retaining the talent pipeline for Oklahoma-based companies.