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Air Force Research Looms Large Among Dayton Development Priorities

Dan Patterson

The Dayton Development Coalition (DDC) has announced its list of priority projects for government funding requests for the year, with some pretty futuristic Air Force research at the top of the list.

Every year the coalition brings together a committee to decide on projects to advocate for in efforts to get state and federal money into the region. The goal is to unite the region around priority projects in areas including defense, health care and transportation.

“It’s a multi-layered process,” says Michael Gessel, Vice President of Federal Government Programs for the coalition. Dozens of proposals are reviewed each year by panels focused on several areas, and then by a general committee that includes a mix of industry, academia and economic development representatives from greater Dayton and Springfield.


Projects that won priority this time include an I-675 corridor enhancement project in Beavercreek and Fairborn, the redevelopment of the Wright Factory by the Aviation Heritage Foundation, a STEM education wing at the Boonshoft Museum, and improvements at the Dayton Art Institute and the Victoria Theater.


This year’s biggest request to receive a priority ranking comes from the Wright State Research Institute—the institute sponsored a proposal for $15 million to bolster research at the Air Force Research Laboratory into how people interact with automated machines like drones (an area of research referred to as human effectiveness).

“One operator might be able to operate several unmanned aircraft systems at the same time,” explains Gessel. But, he says the process of funding this research must first go through Congress—Wright State would be competing for a contract to complete the project.


The University of Dayton also has a $10 million request on the DDC’s list, for a research project to focus on hypersonics, or aircraft that move up to five times above the speed of sound. Again, the funds would be contracted out through the Air Force, said Gessel.


“Should the funding be made available, they will have a good opportunity to secure the funding. But, they’ll have to compete with everybody else.”