Dan Holladay’s vision of what the University of Central Florida is helping develop on Osceola County farmland “will change the world and the way we live over the next decade.”
That revolutionary high-tech change will occur at a new state-of-the-art manufacturing development center for the next generation of smart sensors, said Holladay, a UCF director of Research and Commercialization.
“These are sensors that will have significantly better functionality and that can sense things we can’t measure today – or measure multiple things and analyze them to provide valuable information,” said Holladay, who is also the executive director of Operations and Technology Programs at the new International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research, the world’s first industry-led smart-sensor consortium.
The enterprise is housed at the Florida Advanced Manufacturing Research Center, which was announced last year and is being built on property owned by the county and previously known as Judge Farms near Florida’s Turnpike and U.S. 192. The project is a partnership of UCF, Osceola County, the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, University of Florida, University of South Florida, Florida International University and the State of Florida.
The 20-acre site will become the anchor operation for an eventual 350-acre high-tech campus.
Today, most sensors are more basic, he said, such as simply detecting and correcting an upside down image on a cell phone screen.
Smart sensors of the future will have more power and be more resistant to harsh environments, allowing them to redefine appliances, automobiles, agricultural equipment and other industries. They will not only be capable of measuring or sensing a multitude of parameters, but will be able to do self-analysis, self-calibrate or self-identify, and then communicate that information to the necessary source, such as a doctor. The technology is expected to be so sensitive that it can detect things beyond human capabilities and provide health care providers with new tools to fight cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions.
Before coming to UCF, Holladay spent more than three decades in the semiconductor industry, working in both manufacturing and research and development. Now he is leading the charge with the university partners to create what UCF President John C. Hitt said will be an economic game changer for the entire region.
The center is expected to have 250 high-tech jobs when it opens next year, and the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission says the facility could attract up to 80,000 high-wage jobs in the years to come.
Osceola has agreed to invest $87 million for construction and equipment, for a total contribution of nearly $138 million. UCF is committed to provide $10 million from non-state and non-tuition sources to help build the center, and another $7 million for faculty hires. The university will lease the center for $1 a year and operate the 100,000-square-foot facility.
Another boost to the center could come later this year in the form of a $220 million federal initiative to build an Integrated Photonics Institute for Manufacturing Innovation. UCF is leading a team of industry partners and four other universities to create that institute at the Osceola smart-sensor facility should it win the federal bid.
The institute would provide for testing, workforce development, assembly and other functions for the photonics industry. The Department of Defense is expected to award $110 million for the project later this year, to be matched by investment from institutions and industry.
The consortium is one of three selected by the Department of Defense to submit proposals. The other two groups chosen are the Research Foundation for the State University of New York and The University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute.
“Dr. Hitt’s goal is to be the leading industry partner, and this is a perfect linkage to that,” Holladay said. “This will enable a lot of other emerging technologies, and this is going to help mankind in a lot of areas.”