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Department of the Air Force Eyes HBCU-Led University Affiliated Research Center

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The Department of the Air Force plans to establish a university affiliated research center led by a Historically Black College and University that will carry out research on tactical autonomy.

The department expects the HBCU-led center to help promote autonomy research in science and engineering, provide opportunities for university faculty and students to work with the Department of Defense and component agencies to address challenges related to science and engineering and advance career development initiatives for STEM professionals, according to a solicitation notice published Tuesday.

The service plans to award a potential five-year, $90 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to the UARC, which is expected to receive annual funding of approximately $12 million. The center will undergo a recertification process every five years.

Interested institutions should state in their proposals their Carnegie Foundation Classification of R2 or higher; research and engineering capabilities in autonomy; plans to increase the number of graduates in DOD-relevant STEM disciplines; research and education consortium with defense organizations and other HBCUs; and plans to back the implementation of DOD’s Mentor-Protege program.

“Not only is there significant expertise embedded in these HBCUs … but they have historically been an untapped source of high potential talent, enabling us to create a recruitment pipeline. So this is a huge opportunity for all parties involved, not only the DAF and the HBCUs, but also AFRL who will interface tremendously regarding the research and development portion,” said Marcus Smith, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility officer at the Air Force Research Laboratory.

DAF will accept UARC proposals through Nov. 7.

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