A New Home for National Security Research

Applied Research Corporation Settles in at UA Tech Park at The Bridges

By Tom Leyde

University of Arizona’s Applied Research Corporation held its grand opening last fall at the Refinery Building, part of UA Tech Park at The Bridges at Kino Parkway near Interstate 10.

The 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation occupies the fourth floor at 1600 E. Idea Lane. The UArizona-affiliated organization leases 12,000 square feet of controlled-access space.

Launched in 2018, ARC seeks and serves national security contracts with the U.S. Department of Defense, focusing on special security requirements. 

ARC’s expertise includes optics, cyber operations, hypersonics, quantum information science, space situational awareness and other research disciplines to help execute classified projects or other conditional or restricted activities that can’t be easily executed by other UArizona resources.

UArizona President Dr. Robert C. Robbins said at the Oct. 11 grand opening that ARC “brings together government agencies, industry and the University of Arizona to do things in a secure manner that we couldn’t do without this facility.”

Within its space at The Refinery, ARC offers a modular lab design, providing customizable, re-configurable workspace, as well as in-depth security across multi-level operations.

“It was a collection of perspectives that helped this project (The Refinery) manifest itself,” Austin K. Yamada, ARC president and CEO, said at the grand opening.

Yamada has an extensive background in national security. He’s retired from the Department of Defense, where he served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Special One operations tasked with combating terrorism.

ARC contributes to UArizona student education and training through its UA-ARC Skillbridge Gateway Program, which allows students to work at the corporation. The program has three tracks: education, employment and experience.

The program’s goal is to expand UArizona and ARC’s influence in projects and programs across the university. Student interns work with mentors to develop a schedule and obtain experience in their career fields while continuing their education. Students shadow individuals in their field of interest and network with professionals inside and outside the university. With their professors as project leads, students work on classified and nonclassified contracts at ARC. 

An obstacle in student participation, however, is the amount of time it takes them to get clearance to work on classified projects. On average, it takes 411 days to onboard a new person to work on classified projects. Efforts are underway to shorten that time.

 “I hope you (ARC) get a lot of contracts … and we increase the amount and leverage to multiply and amplify our research operation,” Robbins said. “We all want to see research grow at the university, but are committed to our students, helping them get security clearances to be able to come here and having experiences that they normally would not get. … There are very few universities that have this kind of relationship.”

Major Gen. Anthony Reynolds Hale, commanding general of the U.S Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, also offered help regarding clearance issues.

“I’m going to commit to sponsoring students and interns with the Applied Research Corporation and Fort Huachuca to get them security clearances so that they can work right here in this facility,” Hale said at the grand opening. “We will continue to do everything we can to support the university and Applied Research Corporation.”

 “We’re excited about what The Refinery can do not only for the Department of the Army but also for the Department of Defense,” said Hale, who also is in charge of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, Calif. “And we’re excited about the opportunity to give the University of Arizona and its students in supporting national security.

Pictured above from left – Major Gen. Anthony Reynolds Hale, Commanding General, U.S Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca; Austin K. Yamada, ARC president & CEO; Dr. Robert C. Robbins, UArizona President
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