Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

The CHESS research laboratory, a member of the New York Consortium for Space Technology Innovation and Development, is working to advance the space technology sector.

October 5, 2023

Cornell’s New York Consortium for Space Technology Innovation and Development to Receive $5 Million From Department of Defense

Print More

A new Cornell project advancing innovation and workforce development in the space technology sector, the New York Consortium for Space Technology Innovation and Development, is being awarded $5 million from the U.S. Department of Defense, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced in a Sept. 25 press release.

The funding, provided through the Defense Manufacturing Community Support program, is also being awarded to the Upstate Defense Consortium, which aims to advance the microelectronics industry.

“This $10 million will allow these trailblazing projects from the Upstate Defense Consortium and Cornell University Space Technology program to train the next generation for good-paying jobs in communities from Rome to Syracuse to Ithaca, and breathe new life into Upstate [New York’s] legacy in manufacturing to take us to the next frontier in the technology of the future,” Schumer said in the press release.

The University’s space technology program won the $5 million grant to support development of defense technology and manufacturing in New York State. This project plans to examine the demand for advanced defense space technology manufacturing and strengthen the supply chain.

A collaborative effort led by Cornell’s Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in partnership with the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source and the Cornell Center for Materials Research, the project plans to boost workplace development, upgrade facilities and support research projects and small businesses. All of these initiatives are expected to train a more skilled workforce, improve manufacturing, develop further research, generate long-term economic growth, create jobs and establish an industrial base. 

Funding from the Department of Defense will be partially used to upgrade facilities in Cornell’s High Voltage Laboratory, a 14,000-square-foot facility located on Mitchell Street, for the research, development and testing of space technologies and related applications. The grant will also provide small business assistance to consortium members, along with specialized training and education through academic fellowships, internships and annual competitive grants for research and development.

“To drive innovation in space exploration, we must provide researchers with collaborative environments, brilliant minds and access to world-class facilities that empower them to tackle challenges that are quite literally out of this world,” Krystyn Van Vliet, vice president for research and innovation, told The Cornell Chronicle. “Cornell excels in this regard, and our contributions will undoubtedly bring us closer to realizing some of humanity’s most ambitious goals.”

Prof. Mason Peck, astronautical engineering and executive director of the New York Consortium for Space Technology Innovation and Development, expressed his gratitude for Schumer’s support in advocating that Cornell be awarded the grant. 

“Through his support for the New York Consortium for Space Technology Innovation and Development, Sen. Schumer has helped position our statewide community at the forefront of innovation in spaceflight technologies that could transform national security, discovery and commerce in and beyond Earth’s orbit,” Peck said in the press release.

The role of universities and other institutions of higher learning in researching and developing defense technologies has its detractors, but Prof. Matthew Evangelista, government, said the openness of higher learning institutions provides advantages for research.

“There are advantages to conducting research in the open environment of a university, rather than in secretive government laboratories or private corporations with little oversight or peer review,” Evangelista said in an email to The Sun. “Now that Ukraine is coping with an invasion from Russia, and suffering violence of potentially genocidal proportions, one can understand why there might be more enthusiasm for developing military technologies for defensive purposes.”

The Upstate Defense Consortium, which also received $5 million in funding from the Department of Defense, aims to create programs to educate and train people for the microelectronics industry at Syracuse University, the Griffiss Institute — a science, technology, engineering and mathematics talent and technology accelerator for the Department of Defense — and the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity. It also seeks to connect people looking for jobs in the defense manufacturing sphere. 

This consortium is planning workshops and training sessions to reinforce the supply chains in Upstate New York that are needed for the microelectronic industry. The project aims to train the workforce essential for this growing field, specifically helping semiconductor corporation Micron Technology’s $100 billion memory fabrication project. This investment is estimated to generate up to 50,000 jobs throughout the region.

“Our region has built a legacy of expertise and innovation around the defense and microelectronics industries that is being leveraged for unprecedented growth,” wrote Robert Simpson, president of CenterState CEO, in the press release.

Both of these consortiums aim to shift defense and space technology manufacturing to the Upstate New York region, creating thousands of jobs in the process. Schumer’s office expressed his desire to increase technological research funding in Upstate New York — as he did in 2022 when an additional $8.5 million in federal funding was awarded to the Cornell High-Energy Synchrotron Source Lab. 

“I am proud to deliver this boost in federal funding to both of these incredible projects and applaud the [Department of Defense] for investing in supercharging our workforce across Upstate New York so that cities like Syracuse, Rome and Ithaca can lead the way in building the future of America’s national security,” Schumer wrote in the release. 

Jack Grossman is a Sun contributor and can be reached at [email protected].