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STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Oklahoma State University’s Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education (OAIRE) was awarded two federal grants to further development of Advanced Air Mobility.

OAIRE will receive the grants thanks to the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s $38.2 million award to the Tulsa Regional Advanced Mobility (TRAM) Corridor.

Mack Burke, Associate Director of Media Relations, said OAIRE will receive a significant portion of the $38.2 million award, but a specific amount has not yet been finalized.

The grants are part of the federal Build Back Better – American Rescue Plan.

Federal funds were awarded to TRAM to create a research, development and production hub in the growing field of advanced mobility, which is considered the next intersection point between the aerospace industry and intelligence, according to an OSU news release.

OSU’s portion of the money will be used to create the LaunchPad Center of Advanced Air Mobility at the Helmerich Research Center on the OSU-Tulsa campus, and fund OSU research activities, including the OSU-led NASA University Leadership Initiative and the recent agreement between the Oklahoma and Arkansas governments to develop Advanced Mobility pilot programs across the border.

OSU received a major aerospace grant
An OSU student works on an unmanned aircraft in the Excelsior lab in Stillwater. Image from OSU

The new center will research and develop drone technology and urban air mobility, also known as urban air taxis.

Funds will also go toward related development of flight test capabilities. OSU researchers will collaborate with the Osage Nation and its SkyWay36 Droneport northwest of downtown Tulsa.

“Quality partnerships open the door to new possibilities,” OSU President Kayse Shrum said. “Oklahoma State University has seen incredible success in other Tulsa-area partnerships, and we’re delighted to be a key stakeholder in this coalition. OSU is the state’s leader in aerospace and aviation, with specialized infrastructure dedicated to the research and design of unmanned systems. 

“As a land-grant university, we’re committed to using research to address society’s most pressing problems, empowering Oklahoma’s workforce and providing access to a quality education. This partnership will improve life for Oklahomans in tangible ways. The benefits will expand beyond our borders and will have an influence on the nation and more importantly, the future.”

The work that OAIRE will do thanks to the grants will be a game changer for both the university and the state, said Dr. Jamey Jacob, Unmanned Systems Research Institute director.

“While Oklahoma is already a leader in Advanced Air Mobility, this grant will provide new capabilities, expanding OSU’s role in AAM and attracting new companies and projects to the state. This award, the first for OSU’s new Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education, exemplifies and cements OSU’s leadership position in aerospace and aviation at the state and national levels.”