The Florida Space Research Institute (FSRI)
and Workforce Florida Inc. (WFI) today announced their partnership on a
wide-reaching workforce development program to support the space
industry’s continued statewide growth. WFI will invest $1.4 million in
the program, which will include the development of an Advanced Learning
Environment (ALE) that will support a technician-level training
certification initiative and aerospace engineering education programs.

“Workforce development issues are increasingly important to Florida’s
high tech industries,” said Governor Jeb Bush. “This program will help
to ensure that a world-class workforce is available in our state to fuel
the space industry’s expansion.”

The technician training initiative will include FSRI collaboration with a
consortium of community colleges (led by Brevard Community College) and
industry to develop standardized training modules for various
technician-level disciplines within the space industry. One goal of the
initiative is to establish an industry-adopted certification for workers
who complete specific training courses, similar to the certification used
by the automotive industry.

“We are excited to be a partner with with NASA and the Florida Space
Research Institute,” said Curtis Austin, president and CEO of Workforce
Florida. “This will be one of the most important high-skill, high-wage
activities that Florida has entered into.”

The ALE initiative will include a partnership between FSRI and NASA to
meet tomorrow’s collaborative training and education requirements by
combining advanced computer and web-based technologies with
next-generation simulation and virtual reality technologies. NASA is
already developing these technologies to facilitate collaboration among
distributed groups of scientists and engineers in virtual environments.

“Florida is anxious to be on the cutting edge of the next-generation
learning systems environment,” said George Kirkpatrick, an FSRI board
member and sponsor of the original FSRI legislation. “We are committed
to the strongest possible participation in these endeavors.”

The FSRI/WFI program implements one of the goals of an agreement signed
in September by Florida Lieutenant Governor Frank Brogan and Kennedy
Space Center Director Roy Bridges. The agreement called for the State of
Florida and NASA to work together on a variety of projects to meet the
growing need for qualified engineers, technicians and scientists to
support our nation’s government and commercial space programs.

“These technologies are expected to spur a revolution in the way people
are educated in coming decades,” said FSRI Executive Director Sam
Durrance. “We want Florida to be at the forefront of this exciting new

The Florida Space Research Institute was established by the state’s
Governor and Legislature to promote collaboration among the state’s
academic institutions, space-related companies, and federal space
agencies to support statewide space-related education, training, research
and technology development.