By Althea Johnson, University Communications and Marketing
The University of South Florida and Tampa International Airport have ties that date back decades, and in more recent months, the two Tampa Bay institutions have collaborated on various projects, trainings and think-tank exchanges of ideas.
USF President Rhea Law and TPA CEO Joe Lopano took a step to formalize the partnership by signing a Memorandum of Understanding between the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, which oversees the airport and the county’s three public general aviation airports, and USF.
The Memorandum of Understanding does not commit to any legally binding or specific obligations, but places greater importance on working together to identify research and growth opportunities, form partnerships, develop talent pipelines and engage in other collaborative efforts.
“USF and TPA are two powerhouse economic drivers for the Tampa Bay region with a vested interest in prosperity and sustainability,” Lopano said. “We’ve long enjoyed a strong connection with one another to advance our mutual vision and mission, and with this MOU we will be more intentional and strategic in how we work and grow together.”
The MOU was the first to be signed between the airport and an educational institution.
“The University of South Florida is proud to partner with Tampa International Airport as we work together to create a better future for the Tampa Bay region,” Law said. “Through this partnership, we provide a pathway for our students to gain hands-on experiences at one of our nation’s best airports and for our researchers to apply their expertise to address important issues in our communities. We look forward to continuing to explore creative opportunities to expand our partnership.”
USF and Tampa International Airport have enjoyed longtime connections, with many airport leaders serving on USF advisory councils and USF student groups touring, learning and working at TPA. Over the past two years, TPA’s Office of Innovation, General Aviation Department and Sustainability and Resilience Program have worked with the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability on various research projects related to electrification and energy efficiency at the Authority’s campuses.
“This MOU recognizes that TPA and USF have a global responsibility to explore, learn and contribute in innovative ways,” Lopano said. “By finding more opportunities to partner together, we can ensure a brighter future for our airports, our students and our region.”