The US Air Force and the Defense Department (DoD) are collaborating with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to establish a new university-affiliated research center (UARC).
The partnership will establish the air force’s first academic research center and the DoD’s fifteenth.
At the moment, 14 UARCs are part of the Defense Department. Each of these organizations relies on a set of core research skills specifically designed to suit the long-term requirements of the DoD.
The new research center will concentrate on tactical autonomy, that is, systems that operate independently within the bounds of human support. Situational awareness, force protection, cyber defense, and logistics are supported by these systems. Additionally, the center will emphasize systems cooperation and human-machine learning.
The air force will invest $12 million a year for the next five years in the collaboration. The DoD will pitch in an extra $2 million per year.
HBCUs graduate around 30 percent of African American STEM students, and the DoD and the air force want to tap into that talent, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering Heidi Shyu said.
The partnership will also focus on the secondary objective of boosting diversity and inclusion, which the DoD said has been on its agenda since the public outcry after George Floyd’s murder.
“Diversity of background and a diversity of ideas has always been the strength of this country,” Shyu added. “We must tap into the HBCUs to grow a well-educated and well-trained workforce for the Department of Defense and this nation.”