Erik Sander’s career spans a broad range of professional experiences – from working as an engineer in NASA’s labs and Fortune 500 companies to starting and growing several companies, working in the private venture industry, and managing the cutting edge research and innovation programs of academia.
Erik began his career as a Project Manager and Senior Engineer analyzing advanced fighter aircraft engines and the Space Shuttle Main Engine for NASA, Lockheed Martin, General Electric, and Pratt & Whitney. He was also a Technology Transfer Officer for Lockheed Martin at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
Erik was a Principal for Cenetec Ventures, a private technology incubator, and early-stage venture fund and along the way, he grew several start-up companies in areas ranging from real estate development to technology deployment. Erik also co-founded V2R Group, a technology commercialization company that provided funding and executive-level direction to growing high technology companies in markets from internet security to medical device development.
Starting in 1995, Erik joined the faculty of the University of Florida College of Engineering as Director of the University Center, Associate Director for the Engineering Research Center, and founding Director of Industry Programs – all directed at fostering industrial collaboration, entrepreneurship, technology commercialization, and innovation across a $70M+ research base. Erik has served as the founding Director of the UF-Florida High Tech Corridor Council Matching Funds Research Program, the Associate Director for the State of Florida Energy Systems Consortium, the Associate Director for the UF Center of Excellence for Nano-Bio Sensors, and the Co-PI for the UF Center for Innovative Brain-Machine Interfaces. In 2011, Erik was named as the Founding Director of the University of Florida Engineering Innovation Institute, which fosters a culture of innovation leadership within the UF College of Engineering and beyond. The Institute is the nexus of leading-edge curricular and experiential programs focused on creating student leaders in innovation positioned to change the world, driving faculty programs focused on leading-edge research and innovation, connecting innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors with UF, and transitioning the research and technologies of the College of Engineering to the private sector.
In 2015, Erik was named Founding Executive Director of the Florida Engineering Experiment Station (FLEX) at the University of Florida. FLEX will provide applied research and development services through a dedicated staff of research scientists and consultation with UF faculty. Additionally, FLEX is establishing a state-wide network of operations in order to provide direct assistance in workforce development, distance education, access to UF resources and facilities, accessing the entrepreneurial talent and startup companies, and other UF resources.
Erik received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida and Master of Science in Management of Technology (Cum Laude) from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He has served on the boards of a number of public and private organizations and has given invited presentations at over 100 conferences internationally.