DAYTON, OH—The Department of the Air Force (DAF) is creating the first Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) led University Affiliated Research Center (UARC). This is also the first DAF UARC. The UARC’s core competencies will focus on advancing the deployment of tactical autonomy for DAF missions. The success of this effort is built on a strong partnership between the DAF, USD(R&E), USD(A&S) and USD(P&R) under the overarching guidance of the Secretary of Defense.
BACKGROUND OF THE PROGRAM
HBCUs graduate 30 percent of African American STEM professionals, but receive less than .05 percent of DOD research funding. HBCUs consistently produce high caliber STEM talent able to compete for advanced degrees at top academic programs. More than one third of African American STEM PhD holders earned a bachelor’s degree from an HBCU while 88 percent of these PhD holders receive PhDs from non HBCUs.
(Left) Courtesy photo: Department of Education
This is clear evidence that untapped potential to address National Security imperatives resides at HBCUs but it is unavailable to the DAF due to historical inequities.
INTENT OF THE PROGRAM
This initiative will enable the DAF to establish and maintain essential research and development capabilities to advance the field of Autonomy and deliver operationally relevant autonomy for national security requirements. Desired outcomes are to:
Advance the field of Autonomy by focusing on key DAF operational imperatives.
Grow and diversify the available pool of Scientists and Engineers to support the DAF and grow organic technical excellence.
Increase capacity accessible to the DAF by fostering HBCU R1 Research Classification.
Seed a unique ecosystem of small and large businesses around the UARC to further the above outcomes.
The UARC will be competitively selected through a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) made available soon to industry and academia. It will be based on a consortium model with a Lead HBCU Institution and additional performer institutions, serving under a consortium framework. The DAF Chief Scientist (AF/ST) will be the UARC sponsor with a Management Office responsible for UARC implementation and oversite; and an Executive Steering Board (ESB) which will be populated with members from DoD community partners. The UARC award period will be 5 years with 5 option years at $12M per year. The DAF is leading the investment with $8M per year with additional annual contributions of $2M yearly each from USD(R&E) and USD(A&S).
— Source and cover photo: Air Force Research Laboratory
By Master Sgt. Chance Babin, Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — Air Force Chief of Staff General CQ Brown, Jr. delivers a powerful message about air power and diversity in a new Air Force commercial titled “Helmet.”
The dynamic 30-second spot aired for the first time on national TV during the NBA Finals pregame.
“I was a captain when I was asked to do an interview about diversity, and I shared this idea,” Brown said. “I want our adversaries to know that, no matter our respective backgrounds, our Airmen are unstoppable.”
For Air Force Recruiting Service’s top recruiter, the commercial is a slam dunk.
“The message is clear,” said Maj. Gen. Edward Thomas, AFRS commander. “As Airmen, we’re committed to ensuring we have the most capable and lethal air power in the world, and we want America’s best – the best from all of America – to come join us.”
Thomas emphasized that the Air Force is a warfighting organization, and the nation expects nothing less than the highest standards and a selection process that brings in the best Americans to become Airmen.
“When Gen. Brown became the CSAF, he clearly stated that the Air Force was going to focus on what we do best – air power,” said Barry Dickey, AFRS director of strategic marketing. “We wanted to make a commercial that reinforced that priority, but also inspired Americans from all walks of life to serve in the Air Force.
“The power of this spot is in the underlying message and delivery. When I watch the commercial, I’m left with the understanding that the Air Force doesn’t care what you look like or where you come from,” Dickey said. “If you can do the job, we’ve got an opportunity for you. At the same time, I also get the message that the Air Force is about winning with air power, period. All of this is delivered by the leader of the Air Force in 30 seconds.”
AFRS and its advertising agency, GSD&M, originally planned to film two commercials with Brown at Edwards Air Force Base, California, with a focus on both diversity and air power.
The “Helmet” commercial was not in the original plans, but materialized as the day’s shooting progressed.
“While we were recording the voice-over for the commercials, Gen. Brown told a few stories and basically said what you hear in the commercial,” Dickey said. “When he did, I think everyone in the room immediately had the same thought – ‘we’ve got to record that!’ The creatives from GSD&M quickly turned his words into a script while we were filming and General Brown graciously agreed to perform on-camera.”
The commercial also fits squarely into AFRS Detachment 1’s efforts to reach into traditionally underserved communities to let people know about the opportunities to fly in the Air Force through programs designed to meet CSAF’s Rated Diversity Improvement initiative goals. For example, the Aim High Flight Academy gives disadvantaged youth a chance to learn to fly while being mentored by Air Force officers.
“We have a very healthy level of diversity in our enlisted ranks, but our officer and flying specialties look less like America,” Thomas said. “Air Force recruiting efforts have ramped up to better attract a cross-section of highly-qualified Americans into our ranks and specifically to consider flying opportunities.”
— Source and photos: United States Air Force (USAF)
WASHINGTON ―The wait is finally over for the very end of 2020. The latest lists from Industry of top stories in tech, cyber, and STEM likely will loom much larger in the fog of 2021. Topping the charts for 2020 during National BDPA’s 45th Anniversary year were stories directly and indirectly related to COVID-19, Big Tech, Cybersecurity, and Social Unrest amidst a wider and much deeper ‘Digital Chasm‘ connecting underserved communities with their respective populations during a pandemic.
The Top 25
Most of the top 25 stories highlighted below for 2020 previously were shared with Industry, communities of color, traditionally marginalized communities, and underserved communities inside or on the covers of weekly and monthly publications.
25.Earth Day Tech Summit: BDPA and UDC Earth Day Summits go virtual due to COVID-19. [April 2020 edition of bdpatoday]
24.Digital Divide: 51,000 laptops with Internet services were provided to students in Detroit, MI. [bdpatoday.com]
23. U.S. Naval Academy: Midshipman First Class Sydney Barber becomes the first Black female to lead Brigade of Midshipmen. Upon graduation in May of 2021, MIDN Barber will receive her commission as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. [bdpatoday 11.14.20 ICYMI edition]
22. Zoom: In order to meet exponential growth and unprecedented demand, Oracle is selected as a cloud infrastructure provider for Zoom meetings. [bdpatoday 05.02.20 ICYMI edition]
21. U.S. Navy: LTJG Madeline G. Swegle becomes the U.S. Navy’s first Black female Tactical Air (TACAIR) jet pilot. [July 2020 edition of bdpatoday]
20.NIST: The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Privacy Framework Version 1.0 was released to help organizations identify and manage privacy risk for building innovative products and services while protecting individuals’ privacy. [ bdpatoday 01.18.20 ICYMI edition]
18. COVID-19: Apple and Google partner on contact-tracing technology. [bdpatoday.com]
17.Tesla: Headquarters and Gigafactory moves are heading to Austin, TX. [bdpatoday.com]
16.HPC: Lewis Hamilton wins 7th FIA Formula One championship powered by edge-to-core analytics with high-performance computing (HPC) from HPE. [bdpatoday 11.28.20 ICYMI edition]
15.COBOL: Federal, State, and Local governments call for more COBOL programmers to assist staff with stimulus, relief, and unemployment checks. [bdpatoday 04.04.20 ICYMI edition]
14. Exascale Day!: October 18th is Exascale Day. HPE, JEF, and BDPA welcomed “10 to the 18th power” or “10^18” during Exascale Day Weekend launching a series of supercomputer, HPC, and artificial intelligence (Ai) webinars. [October 2020 edition of bdpatoday]
12.BDPA2020: National BDPA’s 45th Anniversary, Annual Technology Conference, Diversity Career Fair, I.T. Showcase, Mobile App Showcase, and the annual National High School Computer Competition (HSCC) collectively go 100-percent virtual for the first time in the Association’s history. #BDPA2020 was successfully delivered across all mobile platforms. [August 2020 Special Edition of bdpatoday]
11. USASMDC: The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and BDPA Huntsville launch a new Cyber Workforce initiative with the U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC.) [bdpatoday 10.31.20 ICYMI edition]
10. Digital Divide: Microsoft awards $15 million in Community Skills Grants, an investment over three years to fifty (50) Black- and African American-led nonprofits that are working to increase skill development and economic opportunities. The H.O.P.E. Project DMV in partnership with National BDPA’s Greater Washington, D.C. Chapter (bdpadc.org) are one of Microsoft’s grant recipients for 2020. [bdpatoday.com]
9.AFRL: In fiscal year 2021 (FY21), the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program seeks to ink new and innovative deals with emerging small businesses and HBCU mission partners to meet or exceed the Department of the Air Force’s (DAF) priorities. [bdpatoday May 2020 edition]
8. Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin’s latest rise in 2020. For the first time in its history, Bitcoin reached $20,000. According to CNBC, the world’s most-valuable virtual currency traded 5.6% higher on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, to a new price of around $20,600, taking its year-to-date gains north of 180%! [bdpatoday.com]
7. SpaceX: The launch of two NASA astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) marked the first private spaceflight company to send a crewed spacecraft into space. [bdpatoday June 2020 edition]
6. SolarWinds: Government agencies ‘hacked’ again ― stories from Federal, State, and Local agencies are still unfolding as we venture deeper into 2021. [bdpatoday.com]
5.Wall Street: Nasdaq advances “diversity” as stocks in 2020 across most major indices reached record highs. Nasdaq soon may adopt new listing rules related to board diversity and disclosures. [bdpatoday.com]
4.White House: As the daughter of two immigrants from Jamaica and India, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’ historic election breaks several barriers. “All eyes are on Georgia” as the next President of the Senate awaits Georgia’s runoff election results to determine control of the U.S. Senate. [bdpatoday November 2020 edition]
3.Big Tech vs. Uncle Sam: On October 6, 2020, bdpatoday.com featured a story about the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee’s release of findings of its more than 16-month long investigation into the state of competition in the digital economy, especially the challenges presented by the dominance of Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook and their business practices. On October 20, 2020, bdpatoday.com shared a story from the Department of Justice (DOJ.) DOJ — along with eleven state Attorneys General — filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harms. In 2021 and the foreseeable future, “Big Tech” will have its day in Congress and the Courts from at least two branches of government. In the pipeline will be renewed battles over Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 (at 47 U.S.C. § 230). “Section 230” provides immunity for content providers and website publishers from third-party content. [bdpatoday.com]
2. COVID-19: “All Hands On Deck” for scientists, engineers, physicians, logisticians, STEM technicians, and I.T. professionals. “Digital divides” and “heath desert” challenges across the globe in underserved communities are hampering vaccine distributions as 2020 fades away. [bdpatoday December 2020 edition]
Number 1. Digital Divide and Social Unrest: Black Data Matters, Black Tech Matters, Black Consumers Matter, all lives matter, every student ― #BDPAfuture ― really matters. Founded by Earl A. Pace, Jr. in Philadelphia, PA as Black Data Processing Associates, BDPA was established in 1975 to promote and share awareness across traditionally underserved or marginalized communities of new “Data Processing” careers with related technical job openings in “Computer Science” fields. Today, BDPA’s mission has not waivered.
The pandemic of 2020 coupled with civil unrest across several U.S. cities revealed widening ‘digital chasms’ with news deserts, health deserts, and food deserts in every corner of America leading up to our top stories for 2020. Systemic racism, cultural biases, social discord, oppression from deep within our society’s soul, and gerrymandered redlining transgressions still are shrewdly perpetuated today through outdated laws, discriminatory policies, algorithmic bias, obsolete technology, and dilapidated infrastructures. To this end, our lead success stories feature BDPA, its ICT Industry partners, major corporations, and local BDPA Chapter mission-partners making impact investments to help eliminate “deserts” within digitally divided communities as millions of students, teachers, and parents where forced home; many with little or no access to high speed Internet services. [bdpatoday.com]
Last October, National BDPA celebrated the life of Vivian C. Wilson, the first women elected to the Association’s chief executive role of National BDPA President.
BDPA Nation also said goodbyes in 2020 to iconic Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman;Dr. George Robert Carruthers, an inventor, physicist, engineer and space scientist; Roderick “Rod” Wesley Flakes, former President, BDPA (Boston) Mass MetroWest Chapter and engineer at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC); U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; one of NASA’s “Hidden Figures” Katherine Johnson; U.S. Representative John Lewis; Norman Shakespeare, former Vice President of Strategic Planning, BDPA (Boston) Mass MetroWest Chapter; model and restaurateur Barbara “B” Smith; and Charles “Chuck” Yeager, World War II ace fighter pilot and U.S. Air Force quintessential test pilot.
2021 has arrived! In May 2021, bdpatoday (ISSN 1946-1429) launches its 15th year to proudly serve more I.T. technicians and cybersecurity professionals, new HBCU Chapters, new student members, and new consumers in every industry. To add your team’s success stories in tech, cyber, and STEM along with new campaigns or press releases, contact our team directly at: email@example.com – or – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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:
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.