Governor’s Cabinet Meeting Features Peek into Southern Maryland Research and Collaboration

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Dr. Reza Ghodssi leads Governor Wes Moore and Lt. Governor Aruna Miller on a tour of the USMSM SMART Building. PHOTO CREDIT: Executive Office of the Governor

State leaders had the opportunity to see where education and research meet in St. Mary’s County.

As part of the governor’s cabinet road tour, Governor Wes Moore, Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller, and the Moore-Miller Administration cabinet explored local landmarks including the Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River and Leonardtown before holding Friday’s meeting.

After the meeting, the group, including Congressman Steny Hoyer, toured the USMSM SMART Building. They saw the labs where USMSM’s partners, including the University of Maryland (UMD), hold classes. They walked through the UMD MATRIX Lab research spaces, including the Project Assembly Area, water tunnel, anechoic chamber, and Open Air-Land Lab, a large space for flying drones and operating ground robots.

In the Project Assembly Area, Gov. Moore and Lt. Gov. Miller met MATRIX Lab Assistant Research Scientist Dr. Justin Stine, who showed them his ingestible capsule research alongside Keith Davenport. Dr. Stine is mentoring Davenport, a College of Southern Maryland and DREEM program student who plans to transfer to UMD’s engineering program at USMSM in Fall 2024. The state leaders also met MATRIX Lab apprentice Trevon Jefferson, a student at Leonardtown High School and the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center. He is researching the use of 3D printed airframes in the construction of fixed wing drones.

Next to the water tunnel, MATRIX Lab Visiting Robotics Engineer Dr. Wei-Kuo Yen shared his research on autonomous schooling robotic fish with the group. The water tunnel’s large size allows Yen to do experiments with larger fish and wider separation.

After the tour, Gov. Moore and Lt. Gov. Miller learned about Southern Maryland’s economic and physical assets through a series of presentations led by Dr. Reza Ghodssi, Executive Director of Research and Innovation for the UMD MATRIX Lab.

  • Ken Reed, Managing Member of S. Hunt Aero, LLC talked about the growth and accomplishments of the St. Mary’s County Regional Airport. That includes more aircraft, more businesses, and more community events at the fastest growing airport in Maryland.
  • Chris Kaselemis, the Economic Development Director for St. Mary’s County, talked about the key assets of the AeroPark Innovation District and how its collaborative and innovative atmosphere fuels the local aviation and autonomy economy as a budding university research park.
  • Matt Scassero, the Director of Operations and Outreach for the UMD MATRIX Lab, talked about industry, government, and academia working together in the Maryland Autonomy Corridor. USMSM and the UMD MATRIX Lab, along with the UMD UROC and NAS Patuxent River, are the southern anchor of the corridor.
  • Tom Garrison, President of the Southern Maryland Navy Alliance, talked about how the group works closely with NAS Patuxent River to foster relationships and promote defense-related opportunities in Southern Maryland.
  • Bonnie Green, Executive Director of The Patuxent Partnership, talked about how the non-profit works with industry, government, and academia to engage students and develop the workforce, especially through Southern Maryland 2030, an Office of Naval Research-funded initiative.
  • Christine Bergmark, the CEO/President of the St. Mary’s County Chamber of Commerce, talked about the efforts to develop, grow, and promote businesses in the region.

All these groups and more contribute to Southern Maryland’s incredibly collaborative ecosystem. The region’s organizations have a shared interest in growing the economy by teaching in-demand skills that lead to lucrative careers and by researching innovative technologies.

Published February 5, 2024