DoD Invests $50 million in Minority-Serving Institutions For Scientific Research

PENTAGON—The Department of Defense (DoD), through the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), is pleased to announce awards totaling $50 million to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions (HBCUs/MSIs) to conduct research in defense priority areas. The competitive awards cover two discrete funding opportunities under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 DoD HBCU/MSI Research and Education Program.

“Our nation’s HBCUs and MSIs are at the forefront of innovation and help strengthen the Department’s fundamental advancements in priority scientific areas. Building upon the DoD’s strong history of investing in HBCUs and MSIs, today’s announcement totaling $50 million demonstrates our continued commitment to these institutions and their contributions to advance transformative defense research,” said Michael Kratsios, acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

A merit competition administered by the Army Research Office selected 31 HBCUs and MSIs for awards totaling $25.4 million. The awardees will conduct three-year research projects in scientific disciplines including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, autonomous vehicles, big data analytics, and quantum computing. Made under policy and guidance from OUSD(R&E), with participation from the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the awards support the research initiatives of OUSD(R&E) and all three Services and will advance technologies directly relevant to the National Defense Strategy.

The FY 2020 funding opportunity announcement received over 160 proposals. The list of awardees is available on the FY 2020 DoD HBCU/MI Research and Education Program (REP) Research Awards(PDF).

A separate $24.5 million merit competition administered by the Army Research Laboratory selected four HBCUs/MSIs to establish Centers of Excellence (COEs) under the DoD Research and Education Program. The institutions and their academic partners will conduct cutting-edge research in defense priority areas over a five-year period centering on artificial intelligence and machine learning, aerospace, quantum science, and fully networked command, control, and communications.

The four awardees are:

  • Howard University, Center of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Howard University and collaborator Old Dominion University will address research and engineering challenges to building safe, robust, and trustworthy AI to support DoD’s modernization priorities. Applications include AI for the battlefield internet of things, electronic warfare, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and machine vision.
  • Tuskegee University, Aerospace Education, Research, and Innovation Center (AERIC): AERIC will expand the future aerospace technical workforce and enhance research in areas including fatigue damage tolerance, experimental aerodynamics, and the performance of material and components under extreme environment conditions.
  • Delaware State University, Center of Excellence in Advanced Quantum Sensing: In partnership with Northwestern University, the center is dedicated to providing a distinctive research program in quantum sensing and prioritizing quantum information science-related education.
  • University of California, Riverside (UCR), Center for Networked Configurable Command, Control, and Communications for Rapid Situational Awareness: UCR along with the University of California, San Diego, will address fundamental research questions in the development of a robust, resilient, secure, and fully networked command, control and communications infrastructure.

Made under policy and guidance from OUSD(R&E), with participation from the Navy and Air Force research laboratories, the COE selections were based on a merit review by a panel of experts. All awards will be made by the Army Research Laboratory. The list of awardees and their academic partners is available on DOD’s site:

https://basicresearch.defense.gov/Programs/HBCU-MI-Program/

Together the FY 2020 research and education awards and COE awards will help drive the DoD HBCU/MSI Program toward its goals to (a) enhance research programs and capabilities in scientific and engineering disciplines critical to the national security functions of DoD; (b) expand the capacity of HBCUs/MSIs to participate in DoD research programs and activities; and (c) increase the number of graduates, including underrepresented minorities, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields important to the defense mission.

OUSD(R&E) is responsible for research, development, and prototyping activities across DoD. OUSD(R&E) fosters technological advancement across DoD to ensure the long-term superiority of the American joint force.


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