GENESYS Classroom at Patrick AFB
GENESYS System Map
Hundreds of highly educated engineers were attracted to work at the Cape on the many space and missile programs. Beginning with the first launch at the Cape in 1950, the requirement for engineers increased each year as more programs were created. Staying current in their engineering skills and even taking graduate classes while working at the Cape became a problem for these engineers. There just were no educational institutions in the area that could offer graduate level courses and Masters or Doctoral Degrees. The University of Florida in Gainesville was probably the closest campus to offer such courses.
Thomas Martin, Dean of Engineering at University of Florida in 1963, proposed a way to offer advanced courses by using live two-way television. It was from that concept that the Graduate Engineering Education System (GENESYS), was created. In today’s world, communication by live video from a personal computer is ubiquitous, but in 1963 it was a revolutionary and expensive concept. Classroom stations were created at Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Orlando, the Cape, and the University of Florida at Gainesville. The State of Florida leased from the Air Force 20 acres just outside the south gate of Cape Kennedy Air Force Station for construction of classrooms and the associated closed-circuit TV station. Shortly thereafter, another station was added at Patrick Air Force Base.
GENESYS could offer classes at any or all of the stations. The two-way television links offered the students, no matter where they might be seated, an opportunity to communicate live with the professor. The professor could, for instance, be in Orlando and teach students live in Orlando and via television link to students at the Cape, Patrick Air Force Base, and Daytona Beach. Neither the professor nor the students needed to travel great distances to present or receive a class. In its day, GENESYS was the largest educational television network in the world. The system was very effective and many engineers received advanced training and degrees from GENESYS.
The GENESYS facility on those 20 acres at Cape Kennedy Air Force Station consisted of four buildings which still exist. Three buildings contained offices and classrooms. One building was a large auditorium. The facility began operation in May 1965 and continued until 1974 at which time the Eastern Test Range Office of Information attempted to obtain permission to use the vacated buildings for an extension of the museum outside the gates of the Cape. That attempt failed and the newly created Florida Solar Energy Center moved into the buildings instead. It wasn’t until 2010, well after the Solar Energy Center moved to Cocoa, that the museum was able to create a public museum in what was the original GENESYS Auditorium. That museum was known as the Air Force Space and Missile History Center. In 2017 the center was renamed The Sands Space History Center. The other GENESYS buildings are being used by SpaceX, Space Florida, and other aerospace contractors.