Brett Cusker, a recently retired Air Force colonel and Montana State University alumnus, has been selected as executive director of MSU’s TechLink Center. Cusker will start immediately.
“We are extremely pleased to have Cusker take the lead,” said Renee Reijo, MSU’s vice president of research and economic development. “He brings with him a real dedication to growing the nation’s innovation base and he’s always been a strong member of the MSU family.”
Cusker, 49, has been the associate director of defense programs at MSU TechLink since 2016. He has completed three master’s degrees: strategic studies at the Air War College, operational art at the Air Command and Staff College, and human relations at the University of Oklahoma.
He became a commissioned officer in the U.S. Air Force in 1991 after earning a pre-law degree from MSU.
“I’m thrilled to be heading this innovative organization,” Cusker said. “It’s a talented group of professionals and I’m really looking forward to continuing our critical role in connecting state and federal research to industry partners.”
During his 25 years in the Air Force, Cusker served in a senior management position in the Pentagon, commanded a squadron in southwest Asia, and was a staff officer at the NATO Supreme Headquarters in Mons, Belgium. He has received numerous decorations for his service including the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star.
Cusker’s leadership at TechLink has focused on enhancing Department of Defense technology transfer, the process allowing commercial entities to leverage the military’s investment in scientific research and development activities. He also enjoys supporting MSU athletics, adding “Go Cats!”
Cusker, who grew up in Great Falls, has come to appreciate Bozeman’s economic growth and the university’s land-grant mission of fostering economic development in the state.
Cusker replaces Will Swearingen, who announced his partial retirement this summer. Swearingen, 72, a founding member of MSU TechLink in 1996 and its executive director since 2000, will continue advising the organization and assisting with economic impact studies in a part-time capacity.
MSU TechLink is the Department of Defense’s national partnership intermediary for technology transfer. It is a federally funded program managed through a partnership between MSU and the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.
Since 1999, TechLink has facilitated hundreds of DoD patent license agreements transferring over 1,000 inventions to industry. The organization maintains the only accessible database of all DoD patents, which enables businesses across the nation, large and small, to find new technologies to develop into new product and service ideas.