1. Military

Hillsborough County approves $5.2 million grant for USF research hub at University Mall

The Hillsborough County Commission is giving a $5.2 million grant to the University of South Florida’s new Institute of Applied Engineering, which will reside in University Mall as part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the area. [SARA DINATALE | Times]
The Hillsborough County Commission is giving a $5.2 million grant to the University of South Florida’s new Institute of Applied Engineering, which will reside in University Mall as part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the area. [SARA DINATALE | Times]
Published Jul. 1, 2019

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Commission is giving a $5.2 million grant to the University of South Florida's new Institute of Applied Engineering.

The new center will reside in the University Mall as part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the area. It is intended to expand USF's research and development partnership with U.S. Special Operations Command while bringing more technology players into the neighborhood.

"I'm very excited to see a major stimulus effort ... and to also see the opportunity for high-paying jobs,'' Commissioner Kimberly Overman said at a recent meeting.

The new county funding, which will be dispersed over three years, will go toward acquiring equipment for the institute, said Robert Bishop, dean of the university's College of Engineering. The institute aims to offer the Department of Defense, and more specifically Special Operations Command, quick access to prototypes and solutions to engineering problems.

Areas of focus will include artificial intelligence, cyber security, data science and more.

The current motto for the institute is "seeking truth at high velocity," Bishop added.

The project builds off of the university's existing relationship with Special Operations Command, streamlining their research collaborations that for the last few years has grown through internships at SOFWERX, said Tim Baxter, director of the university's SOFWERX operations.

In fall 2016, four students participated in the university-led internship program at the SOFWERX tech hub in Ybor City. This summer, 35 interns from nine institutions are taking part in developing affordable cube satellites for Special Operations Command, Baxter added.

It's this kind of collaboration that the new institute will foster, and the kind that will support the University Mall area in general, said Chris Bowen, chief development strategist for RD Management, which is overseeing University Mall's redevelopment.

The site has received a new mixed use zoning designation that will allow for the construction of hotel, apartment and retail space around the research hub anchoring it all, Bowen said. The goal is to provide space for new technology, life sciences and medical innovation while also propping up existing work being done in neighboring sites like the medical district, the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital and the University of South Florida more broadly.

Building up this corridor, currently dubbed the "Uptown District," will also attract a "wide range of compatible players," Bowen said, from military partners to corporate and medical entities.

The Institute for Applied Engineering is expected to open its doors later this fall.

Contact Ileana Najarro at or Follow @IleanaNajarro.


  1. Jessica Purcell of St. Petersburg, a captain in the Army Reserve, was pregnant with son Jameson when she was told at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic not to worry about lumps under her arm. She now is diagnosed stage 4 cancer. Jameson is 10 months old. [SCOTT KEELER  |  TAMPA BAY TIMES]
    A 1950 Supreme Court ruling prohibited lawsuits against the government by military members. A new measure provides a compromise.
  2. This undated file photo provided by the FBI shows Mohammed Alshamrani. The United States is preparing to remove more than a dozen Saudi military students from a training program and return them to their home country after an investigation into a deadly shooting by Saudi aviation student Alshamrani at a Florida navy base in December 2019, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. [AP]
    Many of the 21 cadets had contact with child pornography and possessed jihadist or anti-American material, William Barr said.
  3. MacDill Air Force Base now requires all visitors looking to enter the base to show either Department of Defense ID or valid photo ID with a base pass. [Air Force photo] [HANDOUT  |  Air Force]
    U.S. installations have increased security as tensions with Iran run high, and that includes the bases and veterans’ facilities in the Tampa Bay area.
  4. MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa was briefly on lockdown Friday morning after reports of an armed person near the Tanker Way Gage. The lockdown has been lifted and all gates except the Tanker Way Gate have been lifted. [Times (2018)]
    McDill Air Force Base is investigating a report of an armed person, but a lockdown at the base has been lifted
  5. Rescue workers carry the body of a victim of an Ukrainian plane crash among debris of the plane in Shahedshahr, southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. A Ukrainian airplane carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Tehran's main airport, killing all onboard. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi) [EBRAHIM NOROOZI  |  AP]
    The cause of the crash is currently under investigation
  6. Coffins of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and others who were killed in Iraq by a U.S. drone strike, are carried on a truck surrounded by mourners during a funeral procession, in the city of Kerman, Iran, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. A stampede erupted on Tuesday at a funeral procession for a top Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike last week, killing 35 people and injuring 48 others, state television reported. (AP Photo) [AP]
    The stampede took place in Kerman, the hometown of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, as the procession got underway.
  7. Traci Lenz said this is what her kitchen vent looked like even after mold remediation at her MacDill Air Force Base home. [Courtesy of Traci Lenz]
    Over the last year, families reported mold and other problems in military housing at MacDill and other bases.
  8. A woman mourns in a demonstration over the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Tehran, Iran, Friday. Iran has vowed "harsh retaliation" for the U.S. airstrike near Baghdad's airport that killed Tehran's top general and the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi) [VAHID SALEMI  |  AP]
    Iran vowed “harsh retaliation” for a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport that killed a top Iranian general.
  9. Soldiers board a C-17 aircraft Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020 at Fort Bragg, N.C., to be deployed in Iraq. (Melissa Sue Gerrits/The Fayetteville Observer via AP) [MELISSA SUE GERRITS  |  AP]
    The President ordered about 750 U.S. soldiers deployed to the Middle East as about 3,000 more prepare for possible deployment in the next several days.
  10. U.S. soldiers fire tear gas towards protesters who broke into the U.S. embassy compound, in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. Dozens of angry Iraqi Shiite militia supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday after smashing a main door and setting fire to a reception area, prompting tear gas and sounds of gunfire. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed) [KHALID MOHAMMED  |  AP]
    The embassy attack, one of the worst in recent memory, followed deadly U.S. airstrikes on Sunday that killed 25 fighters of the Iran-backed militia in Iraq, the Kataeb Hezbollah.