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University of Oklahoma to Host National Security Leaders at Inaugural Oklahoma Aerospace & Defense Innovation Institute Symposium

October 10, 2022

University of Oklahoma to Host National Security Leaders at Inaugural Oklahoma Aerospace & Defense Innovation Institute Symposium

The University of Oklahoma will convene national security thought leaders from the defense industry, government, and academia at an Oct. 20 symposium held at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History on the OU campus in Norman.

The symposium, “Addressing Our Evolving Global Security Challenge,” is hosted by the Oklahoma Aerospace & Defense Innovation Institute (OADII), which was established in 2021 by the University of Oklahoma Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships to support the research areas identified in the university’s strategic plan.

“One of our most important obligations as a comprehensive public research institution is to contribute our expertise toward the betterment of society,” said OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. “Through a strategic combination of OU’s groundbreaking capabilities in applied research and an ever-growing network of industry and government partnerships, OU is poised to lead the nation in supporting America’s national security strategy. I look forward to welcoming such a distinguished group of thought leaders to our campus for this timely discussion.”

Keynote speakers include Ellen Lord, former U.S. undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment; retired Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, former president and CEO of the National Defense Industrial Association; and Dr. Mark Lewis, executive director of the NDIA Emerging Technologies Institute and former U.S. Department of Defense director of research and engineering.

Other featured speakers include Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-04), Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK-05), and Boeing Executive Vice President Leanne Caret.

The symposium will also feature panels discussing warfare in the era of social media, counter UAS technologies, security implications of emerging technologies and climate security.

The University of Oklahoma is uniquely situated to continue becoming one of the leading defense and national security research institutions due to its existing strategic partnerships and well-established radar research excellence. OU’s Norman campus is home to the National Weather Center, and its Advanced Radar Research Center is the largest academic radar program in the United States and is home to the largest near-field scanner in the nation. The ARRC also recently became a Community Instruments and Facilities center of the National Science Foundation.

“The aerospace and defense industry is the second-largest sector of Oklahoma’s economy, with nearly $400 million in Department of Defense contracts awarded to our state in 2021 alone,” said OU Vice President for Research and Partnerships Tomás Díaz de la Rubia. “Through OADII, the University of Oklahoma is capitalizing on its strategic location and its unique network of industry and government partners to become a national leader in four critical areas: radar innovations, sustainment and modernization, advanced technologies, and international security policy. Our work will have a generational impact on our national security and equip graduates to help meet Oklahoma’s workforce needs.”

OADII is led by retired Air Force Lt Gen Gene Kirkland, who held numerous leadership positions throughout his 34-year military career, culminating as commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker AFB. In his position as OADII executive director, Kirkland leads efforts to connect with strategic partners in the aerospace, defense, and global security sectors, as well as strengthen OU research in support of Oklahoma’s aerospace and defense industry.

“OADII brings together the capabilities and resources of the University of Oklahoma to provide solutions addressing the aerospace, defense, and global security challenges of today and tomorrow,” Kirkland said. “The first-ever OU defense symposium convenes some of the sharpest minds to discuss how universities can best partner with industry and government to meet our nation’s defense challenges.”

The 2022 OADII symposium is sold out and not open to the public.