New Auburn research center in Huntsville to advance homeland security and space exploration

AUBURN – Auburn University is launching a research center in Huntsville that will partner with federal agencies and industry to advance national and homeland security, as well as space exploration.

The new center, opening July 1, will match Auburn scientists in defense, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, biotechnology and information technology with government agencies and industry in north Alabama seeking expertise in those areas.

Rodney Robertson, director of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s technical center since 2005, will lead the Auburn operation. Robertson has worked in federal science and engineering leadership positions for almost 30 years, more than 21 of them in the Huntsville area.

“We’re excited to plant the Auburn University flag in Huntsville,” said Auburn president Jay Gogue. “The connection between Auburn and Huntsville has always been strong. The new center brings us even closer together and puts Auburn researchers in a better position to team with north Alabama leaders to strengthen the nation’s defense and space missions and help spur economic growth in the state.”

Gogue said that Auburn selected Robertson because of his track record in securing federal research and development funds and managing complex projects.

“Rodney has a well-earned reputation for success,” Gogue said. “Under his leadership, we expect to develop new technologies and quickly turn them into the end products most needed by government and industry.”

The Auburn center will seek to tap into the more than $5.8 billion in research funds that flow each year into the 52 government offices at Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal. Auburn will pursue research opportunities with the Space and Missile Defense Command, Missile Defense Agency, Missile and Space Intelligence Center, NASA and other federal agencies, according to John Mason, Auburn vice president for research.

“We will start on day one reaching out to federal agencies and the industries that support them,” said Mason. “Products and services integrated across several technologies are a growing requirement in the aerospace and defense community. We will leverage the wide range of expertise and resources across campus to demonstrate that Auburn is a reliable partner in meeting those objectives.”

Robertson earned an Auburn bachelor’s degree in engineering and received a master’s and doctorate in engineering from the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (, or
Charles Martin, (334) 844-9999 (