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Florida Universities, Space Industry to Meet

State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan has been crisscrossing the state during his first few months as the head of the state's higher education system trying to find out what the state's 11 universities do well and what they don't.

The next stop: The Space Coast.

As the economy soured in the past year, everyone from business representatives to school teachers stressed the fact that education was the best way out. Brogan, who took over as chancellor in September, has been holding meetings with various industries, and representatives from the PreK-12 system, the state college system and private colleges on developing a strategic plan for the state.

A work group is also being established to specifically tackle that issue. The goal is to figure out which programs and niches each sector can focus on and develop. That way, not every school is developing average programs in multiple disciplines, but a few standout programs.

The education system's and the state's commitment to the space industry is a part of that, he said.

“One of my jobs as chancellor...is to not only make sure that each of our 11 universities is turning out degrees and doing so in meaningful way, but making sure we are tied into the regional, national and international workforce needed out there and make sure our graduates have a place to go,” he told the News Service in an interview Friday.

Brogan, along with representatives of the private space industry and other public and private education institutions, will be at Kennedy Space Center Monday to discuss ways the university system can strengthen the space industry and vice versa.

“Now that we're looking at NASA, at the issue of second generation space flight from the space shuttle, now is a good time to examine higher education's role,” Brogan said.

This meeting is also more of a fact finding mission, though. Brogan said he basically wants to find out from the industry professionals what the universities need to improve on and how they can better organize themselves to work with NASA as well as private entities like Boeing or Lockheed Martin.

“This is one more step that I hope, and many like me hope, means higher education helping reframe our economy for the future,” Brogan said.

The meeting is from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center.

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