The U.S. Army Research Laboratory announced a new partnership with UT on Wednesday, establishing ARL South, a research collaboration between the two institutions.
ARL South, similar to ARL West at the University of Southern California, plans to leverage research taking place at UT and other regional universities and use it to benefit the military. ARL South is part of ARL’s Open Campus program and hopes to accelerate research and technological development.
There will be a central administrative office for ARL South at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, but ARL individual researchers will also work side-by-side with faculty and students in their laboratories.
Jennifer Gardner, assistant vice president for research, said opportunities like the partnership provide real-world examples of how research at UT can directly impact society.
“It’s important to us to show students how the fundamental research that happens at a university can benefit society,” Gardner said. “It’s always great when we can find opportunities to work with groups in society that would benefit from our knowledge and our research.”
Gardner said one likely reason UT was chosen was because of its strong research programs, including research in the areas of ARL South’s initial focus: materials and manufacturing, biosciences and energy.
Students who are already working with faculty on research could also get the chance to work with ARL scientists, depending on the research partnerships that develop.
ARL scientists and UT faculty have already been meeting to explore areas of mutual interest.
Bryan Davies, assistant professor of molecular biosciences, is planning to work with ARL, but the partnership is only in the early planning stages and no specifics of the research are being released.
Davies said he’s excited for the partnership because of its potential to enhance the student experience.
“For a lot of students coming out of science and engineering, the path forward isn’t always immediately clear,” Davies said. “I think this will showcase the opportunities students have for careers … and allow students to see opportunities they may want to pursue.”
While ARL South’s base will be at UT-Austin, they will also explore other universities in the state to potentially partner with, including the other UT System institutions and universities such as Texas Tech or Texas A&M.
“I think a lot of people forget that the military doesn’t just employ people in the armed forces,” chemical engineering sophomore Diael Thomas said. “This opportunity is great for students to see how applicable their research is to different fields, plus it provides exciting, new challenges.”