Indiana University and Crane Naval Support Activity officials will ink an agreement this afternoon that is being billed as a "landmark" applied research partnership. The deal involves IU students, faculty and researchers gaining more access to the base for use as a science, information technology, engineering, math and sustainability laboratory. Crane will benefit from increased internship, project, partnership and technology collaboration with the Bloomington campus and other locations throughout the IU system.

The first projects in the new partnership involve energy management studies at the base.

The agreement will be signed Wednesday afternoon at 1:30 by IU Vice President for Research Fred Cate and Navy Rear Admiral Rick Williamson, who is commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. IU and Crane are the two largest employers in southwest central Indiana and IU President Michael McRobbie calls the institutions "economic drivers." He says "this landmark agreement stands not only to benefit both institutions but to greatly strengthen Indiana’s economic competitiveness. Crane has long been an outstanding partner, and this agreement also provides a tremendous opportunity for our students and faculty to engage in vitally important research and to solve important real-world challenges."

In 2011, IU and the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center signed an education agreement.

An overwhelming majority of the approximately 5,000 workers at Crane are civilians. The entire operation includes thousands of buildings in Martin, Greene, Lawrence and Sullivan counties.

IU says the partnership will tap into its bevy defense and STEM-related programs and study fields that match well with the missions of Crane, including a new engineering program set to begin next fall at the Bloomington campus’s School of Informatics and Computing.

The agreement calls for both institutions to fund their own initiatives and appoint liaisons to the partnership.

IU Assistant Vice President for Strategic Partnerships Kirk White says the collaboration is the “next step” in a long history between the university and the nearly 100 square-mile installation.

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