In 1978, plans were being considered for the development of a university-related research park that would work in cooperation with the Orange County Research and Development Commission to assist as a key center of simulation for space and defense-related research. UCF committed 260 acres for what would eventually be known as the Central Florida Research Park, located just south of the UCF campus. On February 16, 1979, the Florida Board of Regents approved development of the 260-acre campus research park and it was later announced that it was slated for opening by June 1982. In 1980 though, an additional 1,050 acres of land contiguous to the University of Central Florida was purchased to expand Research Park.
On July 26, 1982, Research Park got its first tenant, the American Electroplaters Society. Since then Research Park has been occupied by numerous businesses and UCF departments including the Naval Training Equipment Center, the Institute for Simulation and Training, Invivo Research, and the UCF Foundation Inc. UCF also houses three partnership buildings in Research Park as part of an ongoing goal to become America’s leading partnership university. , As the names imply, the buildings are occupied by a mixture of UCF and defense agency tenants.
In 1993, Senator Sam Nunn declared that Central Florida was the nation’s hub of simulation technology and that UCF was America’s leading Simulation University. Florida Governor Lawton Chiles added more honors in 1997, proclaiming the Central Florida Research Park “the National Center for Simulation.” In ensuing years the research park and surrounding area grew to become arguably the nation’s highest concentration of companies and agencies dedicated to simulation and training-related research and development. As of 2012, Research Park is not only the largest research park in Florida but also the fourth largest in the nation by number of companies and the seventh largest in the nation by number of employees. It houses over 115 corporations and provides more than 10,000 jobs to over 500 students and thousands of alumni along with 2,700 Department of Defense personnel and direct support contractors. The student newspaper, the Central Florida Future, at one time was housed in the Central Florida Research Park as well.