Colleges, U.S. Air Force partner to improve diversity in STEM training

1Lt. Jacob Lutz examines a Navigation Technology Satellite-3 model at the Air Force Research Laboratory, which has partnered with colleges in a $40 million project to increase opportunities for minority students studying science and engineering. Photo courtesy of Tyrell Etsitty/AFRL

Nov. 3 (UPI) — Ohio State University on Monday announced a multi-university partnership with the U.S. Air Force to increase opportunities for minority science and engineering students.

The six-year, $40 million project will be co-led by Ohio State; Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio; North Carolina A&T State University and the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Base in Dayton, according to OSU.

The project will fund summer internships for minority students concentrating on STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — studies, and will offer access to research equipment and collaboration in projects with students in historically Black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions.

“This funding provides an exciting opportunity for Ohio State to partner with minority institutions from across the nation to develop creative approaches to cultivating a prepared, diverse research workforce for the next generation of scientists for the U.S. Air Force,” said Morley O. Stone of Ohio State.

“In addition, through this work, these organizations will be better positioned to propose and perform on AFRL research opportunities and the larger U.S. Department of Defense enterprise,” Stone said.

OSU professor Michael Groeber noted that the project’s primary goal of the project is to help the Air Force hire a more diverse STEM workforce.

“The longer-term, grander goal is to better position HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions to be able to competitively respond to any science and technology call for proposals, and specifically to defense-related calls,” he said.

“Our fundamental goal is to develop the kind of community network that not only develops students’ skills, but also builds a meaningful relationship for the long haul between the institutions we’re working with, the HBCUs and MSIs and the Air Force,” said Groeber.

The consortium of colleges will determine potential projects and develop proposals for AFRL and other Defense Department projects.


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