USU gets funds for satellite research

University nationally recognized for its contributions in area

By Emilie Holmes
The Standard-Examiner
June 18, 2004

Logan – Pat Patterson is excited about the $25,000 Utah State University received last month to fund a new small-satellite research center.

The manager of technology development at the Space Dynamics Laboratory won't directly have anything to do with the funding, but he hopes the research that comes from it will help SDL.

"We're hoping that the folks on campus can develop new technologies with that money that we can use here at SDL to press forward some leading-edge technologies," Patterson said.

With the addition of the small satellite research center, USU now has four Centers of Excellence, which are part of a statewide program aimed at eventual commercialization of university research.

Michael Keene, the state's science adviser and director of the Centers of Excellence program, said the program began in the 1980s in an effort to stimulate the state's economy. The state would give money to universities for technology research for up to five years. Products developed through the research would be marketed, creating jobs and putting money into Utah's economy.

"Today, about 150 labs and companies in Utah are spinouts from original Centers of Excellence," Keene said. "Utah has a very rich legacy of innovation."

USU's new center, officially called the Center for Advanced Satellite Manufacturing, will study ways to make satellites more efficiently.

Todd Mosher, CASM's principal investigator and a professor at USU, said because of USU and SDL's connection with NASA and the Department of Defense, CASM's findings may go toward building satellites for those big-name programs.

Part of why USU was recognized for its satellite research, Keene said, is its annual conference on small satellites, which is in its 18th year.

"We get about 700 people -- almost the whole small-satellite industry -- who come," Mosher said. "We also get a large student participation, which is unusual, but a good sign."

Additionally, Keene said there is a hole in the U.S. market for small-satellite manufacturing. The country now looks toward a British university for its small satellites, he said.

"If there were a domestic supplier (the United States) would turn to them instead," he said.

Other Centers of Excellence at USU include the Center for Advanced Imaging and Radar, the Center for Profitable Uses of Agricultural Byproducts and the Center for High-Speed Information Processing.

Keene said there are anywhere between 15 and 18 Centers of Excellence in the state at one time, largely concentrated at the University of Utah, USU and Brigham Young University.

Copyright ©2004, Ogden Publishing Corporation