The Air Force Research Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base and the Doolittle Institute held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday to officially establish their partnership. The institute's innovative research environment is focused on finding solutions to tough science and technology challenges in the community.
The Doolittle Institute is a 5,600 square foot state-of -the-art facility located in Uptown Station in Ft. Walton Beach. Aptly named after General “Jimmy” Doolittle, one of the world’s top one hundred aeronautical experts, this non-profit institute provides a space where military and community can pull together to produce rapid innovation and solutions to precarious problems.
The Institute’s Director, Dr. Steve Butler, says that typically military scientists and engineers and local businesses are isolated from one another. But, he says this facility offers an area where these industries can interact in class settings, meetings, and mutual community projects, "So, this outside the gate facility will help the engineers and scientists on base to come out and spend time in the community, work with the local universities, work with small innovative companies in town, work with people that produce things and hopefully find an ability to connect to the business person downtown."
Dr. Butler says the services offered by The Doolittle Institute are STEMM based, focused primarily in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine. But the institute encompasses a wide variety of business practices such preparing a resume, career training, leadership and presentation enhancement, as well as organizational dynamics, "Those kinds of professional development activities would not only be beneficial to the Air Force, it will be beneficial to the people in this community, and the Air Force believes in that because if the community is stronger and the business sector is stronger in this region then the Air Force will benefit from that."
Dr. John Wilcox is the Director for Munitions Directorate for the Air Force Research Laboratory at Eglin. The lab provides technical guidance to more than 500 scientists and engineers developing air-launched conventional munitions technology. Dr. Wilcox says the collaboration is exciting and a very positive step for the area, " Gives us an opportunity at Eglin Air Force Base to reach out outside the fence, you know to some of our partners not only in the community but also across places where they have institutions where we can all work together to further technology in the advancement of cause for our great nation."
Wilcox says the concept of integrating local businesses and academic institutions with the scientific know-how of munitions technology can be an unusual concept at first but instrumental to the community in the long run, " A lot of people don’t realize that with that air power with those weapons and things like that comes technologies that are critical in the commercial sector as well."
The Air Force Research Laboratory (or AFRL) is headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio since 1997 and has partnered with several other institutes across the nation since then, including one in Washington D. C., Rome, New York, and at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
The Doolittle Institute, which has only been open for a couple of months, is currently involved with a number of community projects including managing the national Mini-Urban Challenge which is an annual robotics competition and engaging students at the STEMM Academy in Valparaiso. For More information go online to Doolittle Institute dot org.