New National Security Partnership Benefits Florida’s State University System and Talent Pipeline

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Press release content from PR Newswire. The AP news staff was not involved in its creation.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — A new partnership between the State University System of Florida, the National Security Innovation Network and the Florida Defense Alliance, an organization within Enterprise Florida, gives students real-world opportunities to develop innovative solutions to national security challenges. Additionally, the partnership will strengthen the talent pipeline for government and industry.

NSIN is a program of the U.S. Department of Defense and a problem-solving network that adapts to the emerging needs of those working to preserve national security.

This agreement, the first collaboration for NSIN with a state university system, will encourage and promote defense liaisons, applied research, mentorships, and student/faculty engagement within the defense and national security arena.

“This Memorandum of Understanding is an excellent opportunity for our 12 institutions to support an industry critical to the state of Florida,” said Syd Kitson, chair of the Board of Governors of the State University System of Florida. “By preparing our graduates for the types of issues and real-world problems facing the defense industry, we build a dynamic talent pipeline for Florida that fosters innovation and problem-solving.”

Among student projects that are underway include:

  • Helping the U.S. Army 44th Medical Brigade at Ft. Bragg build an app to more accurately track medications ( University of Central Florida );
  • Developing streamlined communication tools for squadron commanders to access mission-critical data effectively ( Florida Polytechnic University );
  • Developing machine learning models that use data from sonobuoys to improve the Navy’s ability to track submarines ( Florida Atlantic University ).

NSIN will hire a University Program Director who will report to the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, the first program director ever assigned to an HBCU institution.


There’s a giant ‘Green Banana’ off Florida’s coast, and researchers have finally gotten to the bottom of it

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

If you haven’t heard of the “Green Banana blue hole” you might imagine a tropical cocktail you can order in Key West, or a dessert you ordered after a night on Bourbon Street.

Forget that. This Green Banana is actually a mysterious sink hole. More specifically, it’s a huge, underwater cavern off the coast of Florida that humans had never fully explored—until last month.

Scientists say the Green Banana could hold clues to the formation of toxic red tides, algae blooms that are devastating to Florida’s shoreline, and the extent of the aquifer that supplies the state with most of its drinking water.

Maybe even the origins of life.

Blue holes—sink holes that form under water—are not unusual in the Gulf of Mexico. In the mid-1970s, a boat captain sailing about 60 miles west of Sarasota spotted one about 160 feet under water, and an unripe banana peel floating above it. It became known as the Green Banana.

Scientists believe it may have formed more than 10,000 years ago when a sink hole opened to form a cavern 265 feet deep and 425 feet below the surface of the Gulf, further than typical scuba divers are capable of reaching.

It’s not just the depth of the Green Banana that’s a challenge for explorers. It’s wide base created by an hourglass shape had never been fully explored until advanced diver Marty Watson did it in August with a team of scientists and researchers.

“What’s it like?” Watson asked. “I’m not an astronaut, but it’s got to be the closest thing in the world next to it.”

Blue holes are thought to be ecological hot spots whose nutrients help supply the food chain around the world. It starts with the phytoplankton that feed on those nutrients, which attracts