Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. announced today it is forming a partnership with the University of Central Florida in Orlando to develop advanced optic and photonic technologies for military and defense applications. Under the five-year research and license agreement, Northrop Grumman will provide financial support and engineering expertise to the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) and the Florida Photonics Center of Excellence (FPCE), two research centers within UCF's College of Optics & Photonics. In exchange, the company will receive preferential rights to any resulting technology. "Northrop Grumman's leadership in optic and photonic technologies will be a tremendous asset to our students," said M.J. Soileau, PhD, vice president for research and commercialization at UCF. "We're looking forward to leveraging their expertise in this field in order to develop new technologies that have military, intelligence, homeland defense and civil applications." The company, which has its headquarters in Los Angeles, said it has long-established operations in central Florida, where it conducts work in airborne ground-surveillance and battle management systems and also makes military laser systems such as ground-based laser rangefinders for target location. Northrop Grumman also has previous partnerships with the university through a research agreement with CREOL and FPCE. In 2004, the company donated $23 million in intellectual property, equipment, and cash to CREOL, which at that time was the largest single donation UCF had ever received.