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May 19, 2011

Tribal college and premier Navy laboratory sign partnership agreement

Dr. Luana Ross, SKC President signs the Education Partnership Agreement between Salish Kootenai College while Donald Aker, Deputy Division Technical Director or the Naval Undersea Warfare Center of Newport, Rhode Island waits to make his signature. The agreement will fund sabbaticals for faculty and internships for students. (Courtesy photo)
Dr. Luana Ross, SKC President signs the Education Partnership Agreement between Salish Kootenai College while Donald Aker, Deputy Division Technical Director or the Naval Undersea Warfare Center of Newport, Rhode Island waits to make his signature. The agreement will fund sabbaticals for faculty and internships for students. (Courtesy photo)

PABLO — An education partnership to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines between the Naval Undersea Warfare Center of Newport, Rhode Island and Salish Kootenai College was announced on the SKC campus last Wednesday.

The agreement is the first of it’s kind in the nation, according to The Governor’s Office of Economic Development. The GOED office sent congratulations to SKC and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center - Newport on the signing of this Education Partnership Agreement (EPA), said Evan Barrett, Chief Business Development Officer for the state of Montana. “As the first of its kind in the United States, this partnership will lead the way in fostering Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics opportunities in Indian Country, to stimulate the creation of tomorrow’s workforce, and create economic development opportunities for Tribal and other business across Montana. This demonstrates innovation, vision, and a spirit of education excellence we can all share.”

The establishment of an Education Partnership Agreement to support STEM) education and related to digital acoustic sensors was executed in January, according to Naval officials.

Dr. Luana Ross, President of Salish Kootenai College stated that the agreement will be valuable for everyone involved, “The educational partnership between Salish Kootenai College and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center is beneficial and important for several reasons. Foremost is the opportunity for our students and faculty to participate in research,” said Dr. Ross. “Additionally, it is advantageous because the students will be encouraged to pursue science and engineering careers. Equally important is the opportunity for sabbaticals for our faculty. Of course, the research development will enable Salish Kootenai College to become more of a research institution. Finally, this partnership is an excellent student and faculty recruitment tool.”

Title 10 United States Code Section 2194 authorizes Navy laboratories to enter into Education Partnerships to encourage and enhance study in scientific disciplines at all levels of education. Under the agreement SKC students will acquire real-world experience assisting with research and development of digital acoustic sensor technology originally developed by NUWC and being further developed and commercialized by TerraEchos, Inc., a Confederated Salish Kootenai tribally owned business located in Missoula, Montana.

Professor Timothy Olson of the Information Technology and Computer Engineering Department will be the SKC project manager. He will coordinate student projects in signal processing, visualization and display technology with NUWC project manager engineers Robert S. Lynch, Jr., Ph.D., and Francis O’Brien, Ph.D. Alex Philp, Ph.D., President and CEO of TerraEchos will also be involved in student projects. “This is a great opportunity and support to us to make strides in serving our nation,” Olson expressed at the signing ceremony.

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) noted, “This is a win-win partnership because it combines the resources of an outstanding tribal college with the experts at the Naval Laboratory to grow business and create jobs in the Flathead. Salish Kootenai College will be a great partner for the Naval Laboratory and I look forward to the research they develop to serve our sailors and our nation.”

“NUWC Division Newport is excited to be partnering with Salish Kootenai College. The Partnership provides opportunities for SKC students to expand their academic experience and apply their knowledge to Navy developed technology. It also permits the Division to actively participate in the education of scientists and engineers who will enter the workforce over the next decade. We look forward to working with the college in their mission of shaping a talented student body capable of addressing the technical challenges of the future,” stated Paul J. Lefebvre, Ph.D., technical director at NUWC Division Newport.

Under an exclusive world-wide license from the US Navy, TerraEchos, based out of Missoula is commercializing a patented digital acoustic fiber-optic technology known as Adelos(r) S4 to provide covert intelligence and surveillance sensor knowledge systems to protect high value critical infrastructure, monitor sensitive perimeters, and secure vulnerable borders.

The partnership will extend beyond the university and Navy laboratory, commented Alex Philp President and CEO of TerraEchos. “The Education Partnership Agreement builds on the relationship between TerraEchos and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport. It supports development of local technical talent that will benefit not only TerraEchos and the other Confederated Salish Kootenai-owned businesses, but other companies as well.” TerraEchos, Inc., is a subsidiary of S&K Technologies, a Montana-based, Confederated Salish & Kootenai tribal-owned company.

Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport, part of the Naval Sea Systems Command, is the US Navy’s full-spectrum research, development, test and evaluation, engineering, and fleet support center for submarine warfare systems and other systems associated with the undersea battlespace.

Title 10 United States Code Section 2194, Education Partnerships, authorizes directors of Department of Defense laboratories to enter into agreements with educational agencies and institutions to promote STEM education. Under an Education Partnership Agreement, a DoD laboratory may loan equipment; provide access to test facilities; develop curriculum; organize and give seminars and colloquia; work with students, faculty and staff on DoD related projects with students receiving academic credit with advisor approval and provide career advice.

Dr. Ross said, SKC is an institution that continually nurtures mentoring relationships and this two-way agreement will further that opportunity. “This partnership will give access to our (SKC) talent and knowledge.”

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