Foundation series

HSU Foundation brings FieldWerx to Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview

CRESTVIEW — The HSU Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center of Excellence hosted an open house Thursday evening to celebrate the continued development of its FieldWerx program, which spans the realm of artificial intelligence, extended reality and emerging technologies.

The FieldWerx program is designed to provide in-demand and highly effective training, sustained research and development, prototype development, test and evaluation skills that will create new and rare capabilities for Northwest Florida. . Leveraging existing resources and a network of FieldWerx partners, the HSU Innovation Institute North Campus connects to the 8,000-foot runway at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview.

“This purpose-built infrastructure and strategic public-private partnerships will support industry and government UAS research interests while providing certification training opportunities and facilitating mentorship and internship opportunities,” said Paul Hsu, a leader in small technology companies and the founder of the HSU Educational Foundation.

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A student design-develop-flight project called Sky Dreamer is the first of many student UAS challenge projects underway as high school and college students work with mentors from the Air Force Research Lab and of the 1st Special Operations Wing to build an Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) unmanned aircraft that will fly from the HSU UAS Center on Bob Sikes Airport 8 miles north to the HSU STEM range.

Once in the sky, the testbed platform can transform into a mothership that releases other small drones that can swarm and perform programmed tasks such as conducting a search and rescue mission .

Local students are given an incredibly rare opportunity to consider these engineering applications and careers in technical fields by solving a real-world challenge.

“There is no greater quest than to inspire inquisitive minds to innovate beyond the limits of our current experience,” said Amanda Negron, CEO of the HSU Educational Foundation. “We work to encourage the development of prototypes, training in certification skills in technical areas, and the discovery of new applications for existing technologies. What we provide is the opportunity to foster critical thinking, to explore new skills and re-examine how we approach difficult problems collaboratively.

FieldWerx represents a formal partnership with the 1st Special Operations Wing that not only empowers warfighters through a culture of innovation, but also includes a wide range of industry players who share a common vision to prepare for a future workforce with the skills to solve tomorrow’s problems.

HSU Innovation Institute campuses offer a host of high-tech equipment, labs, volunteer experts, short courses, and a monthly speaker series to learn about new and different STEM topics each month. .

“The US Air Force is involved in the FieldWerx partnership through my office, the 1st Special Operations Wing Innovation Spark Cell,” said Major Alexander Anderson, director of innovation for the 1st SOW. “In my opinion, the real benefit of being part of the FieldWerx partnership is access. Whether it’s access to resources, ideas, equipment, materials. … It’s about building an innovative and collaborative ecosystem.”

The open house was the HSU Unmanned Aerial Systems Center of Excellence at Bob Sikes Airport at 5793 John Givens Road in Crestview.

The HSU Educational Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that partners with and builds support for a mission to foster excellence in education and inspire innovation. Visit to learn more about training programs, collaborative challenges, innovation institutes, and community outreach.