Partners...Our center of gravity

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- We enjoy a truly enviable posture here at Arnold.

Not only are we blessed with a near ideal location for our mission, the founders also had the foresight to locate some "wind beneath our wings" literally across the base.

For those that didn't know the history, the University of Tennessee Space Institute (aka UTSI) was located here specifically to meet the needs of a highly technical workforce, and this is a resource and a partnership I want to amplify.

In the '60s, AEDC and the nation were consumed with a "space race." The need for advanced technology, research and education opportunities within reach of the country's premier ground test organization drove the location for what we now know as UTSI.

Literally hundreds of AEDC personnel have earned advanced degrees there over the years, as well as some 40 astronauts. In fact our current work force boasts a number of MS grads and even a couple PhDs.

While these teammates were in class, our tech development efforts have leveraged the universities unique lab, research and cooperative development capabilities. We can trace a great deal of what we do here back to the partnerships forged over the years with this fine institution.

Unfortunately, when budgets and schedules get tight, we tend to look inward, and our partnerships drift. This is exactly the time when we need to reinvigorate our network.

I'm challenging all of you to think about how UTSI can help us move to the next level while we face increased fiscal pressures in the midterm.

I just completed a tour of their wonderful facility, and I can tell you first hand, they see supporting AEDC as "job #1." If they don't have exactly the class we think we need, they are committed to building it.

If there's a gadget we want to build, they are chomping at the bit to help. And if there's a sticky problem we can't seem to solve, they want to be part of the solution. We couldn't ask for a better partner.

Did you know they offer night and online/distance learning classes? Did you know you can get your MS or PhD there and apply your work at AEDC to the process?

Adding to your list of credentials just doesn't get any easier or more convenient, even if you aren't pursuing a degree.

They even have short courses in a wide variety of topics, and will build one for us if we need it. This is an absolute gold mine right outside our door, and it's time we get digging.

So take a minute, and think about how we can best partner with our fantastic neighbor, and join me in getting to know this team a lot better.

We all will benefit, and I'm looking forward to a long and fruitful friendship with our "very own" UTSI.