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.


A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Congress Hosts HBCU Leaders for Event on Education, R&D, and Prosperity

BDPA2020 | bdpa2020.com

WASHINGTON — Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) hosted the fourth annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Fly-In event with U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.)  This annual Fly-In represented nearly 40 HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) across the country.

The Fly-In event featured two panels with members of Congress. One in the morning with Scott, Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Walker hosted the second panel, which included guests U.S. Representative French Hill (R-A.R) and U.S. Representative Andy Barr (R-K.Y).

Among topics discussed were funding sources and the passage of the FUTURE Act, legislation Walker led to provide permanent resources for HBCUs and MSIs. Walker and Scott also led a robust session on the benefit of Opportunity Zones and economic policies to bridge economic and educational divides across minority communities.

Scott and Fly-In attendees honored Walker with a framed photo at the conclusion of the conference to thank him for his relentless dedication to HBCUs over the past six years. His district also includes the largest HBCU in the United States, North Carolina A&T State University.

Walker has been a champion of HBCUs and MSIs from the very beginning of his time in Congress, fighting for the funding and recognition they deserve. Walker also delivered welcoming remarks this week at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s (TMCF) Fly-In.

scott-hbcu_fly-in-2020b

U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) (above, center) moderates a panel with Senate colleagues (seated L-R) Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). Senator Scott and Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC) co-hosted the Fourth Annual 2020 HBCU Fly-In in Washington, D.C. This annual event featured a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of Members of Congress to celebrate America’s more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Related funding discussions with both chambers of Congress, both sides of the aisle, Professional Staff, and event follow-up requests for HBCU/MSI inclusion include, but are not limited to:

  • Increasing HBCU/MSI research and development (R&D) participation
  • Upgrading HBCU/MSI infrastructures
  • Developing and upgrading HBCU/MSI super-computing facilities, capabilities, training, and staffing
  • Increasing HBCU/MSI pipelines with robust High School and JROTC computer, cyber, robotics, and drone training with competitions from as early as 7th or 8th grades

Funding requests were submitted this quarter to the House and Senate’s respective professional staff  on Appropriations, Armed Services, or select Committees on Intelligence for the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fund legislative incentives to broaden mission-partnerships and increase subcontracts for HBCU/MSIs with Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) and University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs).  FFRDCs and UARCs are not-for-profit entities sponsored and primarily funded by the U.S. government to address technical needs that cannot be met as effectively by existing government or contractor resources.

Select here to read or download this edition.Similar funding requests for HBCU/MSIs also apply to the Department of Transportation (DOT) which invests in the future of transportation and “SMART Cities” through its University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program. The UTC program awards and administers grants to consortia of colleges and universities across the United States.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), including Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), who chairs the CBC and serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD), who serves as Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, also participated.

— Sources and photos courtesy BDPA-DC and the offices
of Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Mark Walker

Commemorating Women's History Month

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