Air Force seeks research center applications from HBCUs
WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Department of the Air Force is working with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to create the first University Affiliated Research Center led by a Historically Black College or University and is soliciting HBCUs with high-research activity ratings to apply. The new research center will be focused on tactical autonomy. The solicitation follows an April 30 visit by USAF Chief of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown to Howard University. Gen. Brown is among the three selectees for the Roy L. Clay Sr. Technology Pinnacle Awards presented on March 5 along with Gregory L. Robinson, director of the James Webb Space Telescope and Shawnzia Thomas, Georgia State CIO.
The DAF and Department of Defense have secured $12 million per year for five years to fund research, faculty and students.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities with a high-research activity rating in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education are eligible to compete for selection as the lead university. The lead university will be responsible for submitting a plan to create a consortium of other HBCUs to encourage collaboration and build depth for tactical autonomy research amongst other HBCUs.
“Historically Black Colleges and Universities graduate 30% of Black Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics professionals in the United States, but receive less than .05% of Department of Defense research funding,” said Dr. Victoria Coleman, chief scientist of the Air Force. “This is clear evidence that untapped potential to address National Security imperatives resides at Historically Black Colleges and Universities but has been unavailable to the Department of Defense due to historical inequities.”
The initiative will help establish and maintain essential research and development capabilities for the DAF to deliver operationally relevant autonomy.
The goals of the program are to advance the field of autonomy by focusing on DAF operational imperatives, generate robust research and development efforts with HBCUs that are expected to build institutional research capacity to a very high research activity classification, grow and diversify the available pool of scientists and engineers to support the department and establish a source of organic technical excellence, and seed a unique science, research, and development ecosystem of small and large businesses, academia and the DoD.
“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,” said Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “As we continue to focus on delivering meaningful military capabilities to the warfighter to prepare for our most pacing challenge, China’s military modernization program, this effort will expand our department’s access to some of the top minds in the research and development community.”
University Affiliated Research Centers are university-led collaborations between universities, industry and DAF laboratories that conduct basic, applied and technology demonstration research. The universities, considered at the forefront of science and innovation in a specific research area provide dedicated facilities and share space with DAF and industrial participants.
For nomination information (due by 11:59 p.m. Oct. 14), visit https://www.afrl.af.mil/tactical-autonomy-UARC/.