The Warner Robins-based ATTC was a former Publix grocery store.

UD researches work on tech advancement inside former Georgia grocery

In a Georgia city roughly half the size of Dayton, a former grocery store has been transformed into a technological hub for the University of Dayton and the U.S. Air Force.

In October 2018, the University of Dayton Research Institute worked in collaboration with the Air Force to open the old Publix grocery store space into a sophisticated Advanced Technology and Training Center. Located in Warner Robins, Ga., just outside of the Robins Air Force Base, the ATTC is home for 31 local researchers, UDRI members and engineers working closely with the Georgia base. The base is about 20 miles south of Macon.

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One year since opening, UD President Eric Spina visited the Georgia ATTC for the first time last month with UDRI members, local leaders and Robins Air Force Base leaders. Spina said although 613 miles from Dayton, Warner Robins’ quality of life and storied history of military aviation made him feel like he was just around the corner.

“The Air Force and UDRI established the first ATTC on our campus, quickly followed by this one in Georgia,” Spina said. “Soon, UDRI will manage another ATTC at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The success of these innovative collaborations has garnered attention for the university at the highest levels of the Air Force.”

The Georgia ATTC mimics two centers located in Dayton operated by the UDRI and the Air Force.

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“It was a prime location to work with the Air Force to extend (UDRI) down there, just because we wanted to get centered up with the engineering presense down there,” said UDRI’s Division Head of Sustainment Technologies Brian Stitt. “There’s a big engineering base there and they do a lot of work supporting those programs. We have UDRI engineers and program managers that work down in that facility, but then we also have Air Force team members that can utilize the facility with us as well.”

Working alongside UDRI engineers and local researchers are also non-UD students from neighboring colleges and universities near the Georgia ATTC.

Aging aircrafts and military vehicles that need repaired are examples of problems the ATTC is combating with technology. Improving 3D printing technology is one way the center is working to address sustainment challenges.

“During my whirlwind trip, I was particularly impressed with how UDRI is building community connections in Warner Robins and neighboring towns,” Spina said. “Whether with four-year colleges, veterans’ transition centers, nearby middle and high schools, or economic development associations, UDRI is adding value to the Warner Robins community. … I look forward to a long, fruitful collaboration with our friends in Middle Georgia. This is a community whose values are similar to those of Dayton, with hard-working people who care about their families and their co-workers.”

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