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Air Force Seeks to Partner With HBCUs for New Research Center; Frank Kendall Quoted

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The Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force plan to establish a research center affiliated with a historically black college or university in a push to tap into the next generation of science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce.

The Air Force will allocate $12 million per year for five years to fund its first university-affiliated research center that is expected to produce a well-trained STEM workforce for the U.S. military, the Pentagon reported Tuesday.

Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering and a 2022 Wash100 Award recipient, said both DOD and the Air Force are looking to grow the nation’s STEM talent pool to support national security programs.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, said the new research center serves as “an opportunity to tap into universities that have an enormous amount of capability in science and technology.”

“The partnership opportunity we’re announcing today will create a major contributor to the Space and Air Forces’ rapidly advancing tactical autonomy program and it will strengthen collaboration between the Department of the Air Force and the outstanding talent in our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” Kendall added.

The new UARC will focus its research efforts on tactical autonomy, which the Air Force Research Laboratory defines as “autonomous systems acting with delegated and bounded authority of humans in support of tactical, short-term actions associated with a longer-term strategic vision.”

Kendall, a three-time Wash100 Award winner, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address to the Potomac Officers Club’s 2022 Air Force Summit on July 26. Visit the POC Events page to learn more about the upcoming in-person event.