A&M–Central Texas Hosts 4th Annual Research Park Summit

Jonathan Petty
January 10, 2024

City, industry and university leaders gathered to discuss turning opportunities into outcomes at the 4th annual Forge University Research Park & Innovation District Summit on Tuesday.
Above: Trideum Corporation CEO Van Sullivan (second from right) speaks to the audience as part of the afternoon discussion panel focused on technology growth during the 4th annual Forge University Research Park & Innovation Summit at Texas A&M University–Central Texas on Tuesday. Other panel members are: (from left) Centex Technologies President and CEO Abdul Subhani, Chairman of the Board of Tokyo Electron America, Inc., Larry Smith, and President and CEO of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce Scott Connell.

City, industry and university leaders gathered to discuss turning opportunities into outcomes at the 4th annual Forge Research Park & Innovation District Summit on Tuesday. Hosted by Texas A&M University–Central Texas the event focused on creating a collaborative relationship where education and industry come together to find innovative solutions to issues faced by employers in both the private and public sectors.

The idea is to build the Forge Research Park at A&M–Central Texas.

Speakers and panelists at the day-long summit focused on education and technology and how the two impact the workforce, and how the development of a research park can address those needs.

The morning discussion centered around education and providing the appropriate opportunities to not only prepare a workforce, but also create interest in the types of jobs that are quickly becoming available in Central Texas and beyond. Charley Ayers, director of industry and education partnerships with Workforce Solutions of Central Texas said working together is the only way to train a workforce that is qualified for Central Texas’ industry.

“There has to be collaboration if we are going to grow our own workforce,” Ayers said.

According to Workforce Solutions of Texas statistics, there will be a 15% growth in professional, scientific and technical jobs in the next five years. Currently there is an average of 238 monthly job postings in these areas and there are not enough qualified workers to meet the need.

The afternoon session looked at how the need for trained and educated workers will increase in the coming years.

Trideum Corporation CEO Van Sullivan said Central Texas is a prime market for business and industry and it’s important to develop a pipeline that moves people from a desire to work in these jobs to the education needed and eventually to employment. Trideum, an industry leader in areas such as cybersecurity, data management, modeling and simulation, and test planning, already works with A&M–Central Texas. A Trideum office is housed on campus and provides internship opportunities for A&M–Central Texas students. These internships offer additional training and job preparation and, in some cases, students continue on to full-time employment with the organization.

Trideum and Centex Technologies, which operates in a similar capacity on the university campus, are examples of how the research park will function alongside education.

In summary, A&M–Central Texas Interim President Dr. Richard Rhodes said it’s important to continue these conversations as the organizations develop the research park.

“It’s education. It’s understanding areas of interest. It’s understanding areas of expertise and making connections,” Rhodes said. “The great thing about convening like this is we can share ideas, experiences and what we are doing and how we can be involved. We talked about taking the opportunities in front of us and turning those into outcomes.”

Rhodes said it’s imperative to take the opportunities presented and turn them into positive outcomes in order to build the community.

Along with Rhodes, Ayers and Sullivan, panelists and speakers included Abdul Subhani, president and CEO of Centex Technologies, Larry Smith, chairman of the board of Tokyo Electron America, Dr. Christy Ponce, president of Temple College, Dr. Michele Carter, chancellor of Central Texas College, Scott Connell, president and CEO of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, Col. Vito Errico, director of the Army Software Factory, and Rob Stone, executive director of the Operational Test Command.

More information on Forge at A&M–Central Texas can be found on the university website and

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