Ball gets rolling on Harford university research park

The newly formed Northeastern Maryland University Research Park Corporation is already getting the ball rolling to bring a university level research park to Harford County, President B. Daniel DeMarinis said this week.

A study will be done to assess what the research and higher education needs are in the area, then the corporation will meet with state universities, in hopes of bringing them on as partners.

One of the corporation's first acts will be to "perform a market survey to identify the research opportunities and higher education opportunities," DeMarinis said.

After the survey is under way, he continued, the corporation will meet with various universities in the state to "enlighten" them on the "high tech opportunities in the APG region that they should be looking into with the research park."

DeMarinis gave a presentation to the county Economic Development Advisory Board in October on the benefits of bringing a university research park to the county, which would be a college-like campus bringing together schools, government entities, such as Aberdeen Proving Ground, and businesses to promote higher education in certain fields.

It was during this presentation that he informed the board that bylaws and a charter had already been written to establish a 501(C)(3) nonprofit corporation to develop the park. The county government announced Nov. 23 that the corporation had become active, with DeMarinis as president; John Ferriter and Eric McLauchlin, the latter EDAB's chairman, as vice presidents; John Wasilisin as treasurer; John Casner as associate treasurer; former Harford Community College president James LaCalle as secretary; and William Suchting as associate secretary.

DeMarinis said seven Maryland universities have already shown interest in the project, though he wouldn't identify which ones other than saying they are the "major universities in the state." He said he would "rather wait until things are more concrete."

During the October EDAB presentation, he had mentioned that University of Maryland in College Park, Johns Hopkins University, UMBC, Morgan State, Stevenson and Towson universities had shown interest.

The corporation's main focus at the moment, DeMarinis said, is to get the university research park operational, which includes reengaging universities in hopes of creating partnerships with them.

Harford Community College President Dennis Golladay said he is excited at the prospect of having a research park in the area.

"What's going to help is the students in the region," Golladay said. "They can begin with an associate's degree and move into post-doctoral and doctoral work without leaving the county."

Golladay described the park as "a real plus," as well as "a supplement in addition to the higher education opportunities" in Harford.

The HCC president said he believes there aren't enough education opportunities relatively close by, without a four-year college in Harford or Cecil County. He said he would also like to see the selection of advanced level college classes offered at the HEAT Center in Aberdeen expanded to include certain programs that the research park would provide.

"I see it as a beautiful continuum in higher education," Golladay said of the park.

The park would offer degrees in Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), the chemical/biology field and others fields in science, technology, engineering and math that are pertinent to APG's missions.

"That's the big need in the region right now," Golladay said. "Those are the programs that offer the best job opportunities in many respects all up the line."

While the amount of funding, and from which entities it can be expected, hasn't been defined, DeMarinis said funding would come from a variety of sources, including county, state and federal funds. Another possibility would be from paid memberships to the research park.

"What we're in the process of doing is identifying what the funding requirements are and will pursue them through a variety of means, grants, competitive contracts and potential membership fees," he said.

In an email Wednesday evening, DeMarinis added: "Now that we are an operating/chartered entity with a board, officers and working groups, we can pursue our vision of establishing a multi-disciplinary science and technology park that brings economic vitality to our region while addressing national challenges through research and development."

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