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University Beat

USF, MOSI Strike Up 'Innovative Partnership'

Previously, the main connection between the University of South Florida and MOSI was a physical one - a walkway over Fowler Avenue that joined USF's campus to the museum.

Now, thanks to an agreement formally signed by both sides Tuesday, the organizations will actively seek out ways to work with one another in what they call an "innovative partnership."

According to Robert Thomas, chair of the MOSI Board of Directors, the primary way they'll do that is by making the latest USF research accessible to the museum's nearly one million annual guests.

"We're going to be showcasing applied technologies developed by USF in a multitude of fields, including health, engineering, cybersecurity, biotech and others," Thomas said. "This is going to be accomplished largely through collaborative exhibits and programs between our staff and the faculty, staff and USF students. So when you walk into MOSI, you'll have an opportunity to see cutting-edge technology that's being developed right across the street, and we are so excited to have that dynamic."

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Credit Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News
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WUSF 89.7 News
MOSI interim President and CEO Molly Demulenaere and USF System President Judy Genshaft sign a cooperative agreement between their two organizations.

"For us, it's all about being able to present that innovation to our visitors," added MOSI interim President and CEO Molly Demulenaere. "It's very difficult to find the newest next thing that people haven't experienced in their lives - whether it be 3D printing or autonomous vehicle technology or drone technology - those are the things that people are going to experience in the future. So just having access to that technology and those innovations is priceless to a museum like MOSI."

USF System President Judy Genshaft said the arrangement will hopefully inspire K-12 students visiting MOSI to want to learn more about STEAMM-based (science, technology, engineering, arts, math and medicine) fields.

"We have so many inventions and discoveries," Genshaft said. "The hands-on kinds of exhibits are always most interesting to students. It turns people on to science, it turns people on to to discovery - that's what we want."

And Genshaft admitted USF's presence at MOSI could be a boon to student recruitment.

"It will actually help with career choices for young people, and then they'll want to hopefully come to the University of South Florida for higher education," Genshaft said. "It services all children from all different walks of life, so let's turn the spark on to young students and have them come to higher education."

Under the agreement, USF students will have increased internship opportunities at MOSI. There will also be "citizen science projects" designed to get the general public more involved with science.