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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Tech firm brings hope to local economy

By Glenn Scott
Advertiser Staff Writer

Leaders of a science and information technology company that will team with the University of Hawai'i to manage the Maui Supercomputer Center said yesterday that they see big opportunities to boost the state's high-technology industry.

UH won a $181 million Department of Defense contract earlier this month to manage the Maui center after selecting Science Applications International Corp., a privately held, San Diego-based science and technology company, to help market the Kihei supercomputer's services to customers.

SAIC has 41,000 employees and almost $6 billion a year in revenues. It could earn as much as $45 million over the 10-year contract, depending on how much business it brings to the supercomputer center.

Company officials say they expect to build ties with private, government and military customers. A prime strategy, they say, is to expand business locally.

"We think there are lots of opportunities for high-tech development in the Islands," said Clay Stewart, manager of SAIC's Reconnaissance and Surveillance Operation of the Technology Research Group.

The contract offers SAIC incentives to build those ties.

Ability to generate income and to help grow Hawai'i's high-tech industry is a key reason that UH selected SAIC to join the management team, said Harold Matsumoto, executive director of UH's Research Corp.

As they were assembling a management proposal a year ago, university officials knew they needed partners, Matsumoto said.

One provision, for instance, calls for private companies with security clearances to handle classified defense projects. University faculty aren't allowed such clearances. SAIC has them.

UH also pulled in a third partner, the Boeing Corp., to support the team and to link the supercomputer activities with the Maui Space Surveillance System, which Boeing operates.

Stewart estimated today that SAIC will begin with about 17 full-time scientists and engineers at the Kihei center. He said some of the employees will transfer from other posts and that the company expects to hire more specialists for the Maui jobs. Moreover, as SAIC attracts more business for the supercomputer, he expects to expand the staff.

SAIC is no stranger to Hawai'i. The company already contracts to provide services at nine locations, including several military installations, and employs about 300 people on O'ahu, Stewart said.