Spurred by its programs for technology development, transfer and
commercialization, since 1987 clients of the Oklahoma Center for the
Advancement of Science and Technology have attracted more than $500
million in private investment and federal funds to the state.
As the state's only agency devoted exclusively to technology,
OCAST was created 13 years ago to encourage economic development in
the science and technology sector.
Dr. William Sibley, OCAST president, said that since his return
to the state last year after a 10-year absence, he has been
impressed with how much Oklahoma has progressed technologically. He
said this is particularly true of OCAST's assistance in helping
firms develop their projects, from idea to product, and making the
latter a viable concern.
Aimed at boosting initiatives that lead to high-paying jobs in
technological fields, one of the center's most recent endeavors was
to support the University of Central Oklahoma's proposal for a
$600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Partnerships
for Innovation Program.
Sheri Stickley, director of OCAST's Technology Development
Programs Division, said that the UCO program will make it possible
for students who major in fields other than computer-related majors
to take courses leading to a minor in "Strategic Technology."
This program offers ways to increase the information technology
skills of students at both the undergraduate and secondary school
levels. The goal, Stickley said, is to be in a position to offer
information technology firms an expanded pool of potential employees
with sufficient technological skills and adaptability.
"Of particular note," said Stickley, "is the emphasis on
increasing the number of women and minorities in this pool."
Sibley said that OCAST is able to assist faculty with their own
NSF proposals. Although most universities have officials charged
with developing their research programs, Sibley said, OCAST has been
pleased to offer its expertise when requested.
"OCAST is able to interconnect universities with business," he
said, "to be the catalyst between universities and business."
OCAST has also developed an intern partnership program targeted
at increasing the number of scientists and engineers available to
Oklahoma industry. This program, available through both two- and
four-year colleges and universities, provides students and faculty
with research and development experience in a workplace environment.
Intern partnerships have been established at Carl Albert State
College, Western Oklahoma State College, Cameron University, UCO,
Redlands Community College, Northern Oklahoma College, the
University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and OSU-Tulsa.
OCAST also maintains the Oklahoma Technology Center. The Tech
Center was established to encourage technology transfer and
commercialization and stimulate investment in new advanced-
OCAST contracts with the private, nonprofit Oklahoma Technology
Development Corp. to operate the center. Having just completed its
second full year of operation in September, the center has served
more than 460 clients.
"Firms served have been diverse, including those in information
technology, biosciences, energy and environment and manufacturing,"
To assure geographical accessibility, she said, the Tech Center
operates offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Norman, Stillwater and
Lawton. The center serves three general groups:
* Individuals interested in learning how to start a technology
* High-tech firms with a business plan who are ready, with
assistance, to make a presentation to an investment group.
* Established high-tech firms with business-growth opportunities. …