SDL welcomes new USURF board chair, Oren Phillips

By Karen Wolfe
Utah State University/Space Dynamics Laboratory
April 3, 2007

North Logan—Oren B. Phillips, retired vice president of business development for ATK, a leader in aerospace technologies and manufacturing, is starting his responsibilities as newly elected chairman for Utah State University’s Research Foundation (USURF) Board of Trustees. He begins his tenure with ambitious goals backed by decades of career success.

Phillips, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware, has served on the board since 1996. He replaces Major General Garrison Rapmund who stepped down in December.

Phillips begins his tenure as chair following a period of significant change for the Research Foundation. Last year, restructuring of USURF’s operating units singled out the Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) not only as the largest operating unit of the foundation, but also the one on which attention should be focused. Over a span of less than a decade, SDL has successfully transitioned from a laboratory that supported just a few major, high-dollar US government space programs to one that is currently supporting over one hundred programs worldwide.

Under Phillips’ guidance, the board and USURF management are currently developing a Strategic Plan for USURF/SDL, which will identify areas of future emphasis based on USURF’s core technologies, intellectual property and experience.

At this stage, Phillips finds it premature to speak in terms of growing the Foundation, focusing instead on the immediate future, maintaining stability and identifying new areas to invest in research and technology development. “We are financially sound; we have a strong technical portfolio and excellent personnel. It is proper that we examine new technology investment to build a strong foundation for future business growth and expansion at the Foundation, the University and in Northern Utah.”

In regards to USURF’s relationship with USU, Phillips feels that it is very good and is excited about the prospects of strengthening ties in the future. He hopes to see more technology funding through collaborative proposals between SDL and USU faculty, thereby enhancing the technical strength at both USURF and USU. “Our association with USU with its strong engineering, computer science, and business and education faculty complements the USURF/SDL strengths in applied engineering and project management.”

“I see significant opportunities in post-graduate programs that will align with our core business, as well as insert us into other technologies,” said Phillips.

Phillips is particularly encouraged by Utah’s commitment to investing in technology through avenues such as the USTAR initiative. “We have two strong public research universities in the state that will become even stronger with USTAR which has placed an emphasis on supporting science and engineering and building business in Utah through technology,” Phillips says. “USURF/SDL will be caught in both the bow wave and the wake of those investments.”

The Research Foundation was created in 1967 as a nonprofit corporation owned by Utah State University. Its purpose is to provide an organization for the management and physical support of applied research, the discovery of new ideas and the advancement of innovative technologies. The board that governs the foundation consists of eleven voting members.