TAMPA (FOX 13) - More than 12,000 people are attending the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference at the Tampa Convention Center.
Part of the event is a trade show with products for the battlefield from everywhere. But there's a Tampa connection that's brand new.
It's a partnership between U.S. Special Operations Command and the University of South Florida on cube satellites. They're small; not much bigger than a tissue box.
"Just think of a cell phone 20 years ago and how big it was. Now, think of your cell phone now, " says James Geurts of SOCOM.
They're so small that one rocket can carry many of them into earth's orbit. On the battlefield below, troops can connect with the satellites for vital data.
In the new partnership, USF engineering students will work on secondary payloads. The satellites can carry cameras and all kinds of sensors. The work has already begun at USF.
"It's a lot of work, but it's really interesting stuff. I want to do it for a living, so I consider it a real industry experience," says Peter Jorgensen, a USF graduate research assistant.
They plan to launch the satellites in 12-18 months.