Updated:OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. —
Osceola County leaders have a new idea for the land where they had been considering building a spring training facility for the Washington Nationals baseball team, and it could bring thousands of high-tech jobs to the area.
A $61 million research center would manufacture "smart sensors
" on land across from Osceola Heritage Park.
University of Central Florida professor Don Malocha and his students have been working on sensors for years.
Tucked away in a UCF engineering building, Malocha and his students have been building wireless devices and creating prototypes for NASA to detect things remotely, like temperature.
The sensors and supporting software can be designed to sense a variety of things, including gases and liquids.
Malocha said many people aren't aware of how big a role sensors play in life.
"People don't really realize we have sensors in our microwaves sensing our food," said Malocha. "They're getting in the medical field; we're trying to sense different types of viruses, different types of diseases."
Malocha said sensors of all types could change the way we live our lives but they need more research.
Osceola County officials agree with Malocha.
County commissioners just committed to invest $61 million in a state-of-the art research facility dedicated to creating the up-and-coming technology.
UCF will lease the building and operate the center.
Malocha said having a facility like that just approved by Osceola County could set the area apart.
UCF would contribute $10 million to the project.
Officials have not said when they will break ground on the facility.