The University of Central Florida and the University of Florida have joined forces to research the materials, sensors, actuators, power sources and electronics that are expected to drive the “Internet of Things” – the interconnection of the cyber and physical world – which engineers predict is the future of the Internet.

In the last 30 years, the Internet revolution has completely changed how people communicate, exchange money, and explore the world. Access to the Internet has transitioned from the desktop computer to hand-held and even wearable devices.

By 2020, engineers predict that 20 billion items will be connected to and controlled through the Internet, such as thermostats, cars and even coffee makers.

The UCF-UF partnership is called the MIST (Multi-functional Integrated System Technology) Center, and was selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to play a leading role in researching the next generation of “smart” electronics.

Funded through an NSF program that combines federal money with industry investments in strategic research, the MIST Center will receive $880,000 from the NSF, and about $4 million from industry and government partners.

“The MIST Center will shape what our smart electronics will look like in the near future,” said Jiann-Shiun Yuan, UCF MIST director and professor in UCF’s Electrical and Computer Engineering division. “Our faculty and students will have the opportunity to perform advanced research driven by industry needs for smart sensors and integrated systems.”

The MIST Center will also feed manufacturing-ready technologies to the newly established International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR) in Osceola County. UCF, Osceola, the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission and other partners are  building the 100,000 sqaure foot state-of-the-art research center focused on the manufacturing of Smart sensors to target the mega-growth technologies offered by the Internet of Things.

The MIST Center is a collaborative center housed in UCF and UF. The team comprises faculty from multiple disciplines, including electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science & engineering, biomedical, and chemistry, and the UCF College of Optics and Photonics. The UCF team is led by Yuan and Hyoung Jin Cho, professor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The UF team is led by Toshi Nishida and David Arnold, professors in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“The opportunity to work with NSF, UF and industry on this strategically important research boosts our national and international visibilty and is a win-win for all involved,” said Michael Gerogiopoulos, dean of  College of Engineering and Computer Science.

The MIST Center will host its inaugural meeting with industry and government partners in December 2014.