AI Expert Dr. Damon Woodard Assumes Directorship of New UF Institute, FINS

The Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at UF is pleased to announce that Damon Woodard, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has agreed to serve as director of the Florida Institute for National Security (FINS). FINS was created in 2012 to serve the workforce and research needs of the country’s national security agencies and industry. The position of director has been vacant since the founding director, Dr. Warren Dixon, became Chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.  As part of a new vision, FINS will particularly focus on leveraging the UF AI Initiative to position the state’s flagship university as the nationally recognized premier provider of AI talent for the national security and defense industry, and as an innovation leader in AI-enabled national security. The Institute will serve as an interdisciplinary, multi-dimensional (physical, cyber, political, economic, ecological, energy) resource for AI workforce development and research. FINS will partner with the College’s Florida Applied Research in Engineering (FLARE) program to advance science and technology vital to the national interest and, in partnership with defense-related companies, launch a cleared talent pipeline program that provides new employment opportunities to our students and alumni.

“Florida is often ground zero regarding several national security matters,” Dr. Woodard said. “Thus, FINS is well situated as the state’s flagship educational institution to partner with the critical national security assets found across the state. FINS is poised to make an enormous impact in supporting our nation’s security through cutting-edge applied AI research and the training of an AI-literate workforce.” 

This article was originally published in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering Newsletter, July 2022