Howard University has been selected by the U.S. Air Force to lead a University Affiliated Research Center. As the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to lead such an Air Force research center, Howard will receive $12 million per year to support studies on tactical autonomy technology for military systems.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (see image above; at center) explained the importance of the research to the troops, “Autonomous systems make our military faster, smarter, and more combat-credible. They equip commanders with the best possible information to support life-and-death decisions.” He added, “I have no doubt that the advancements that will come out of Howard's new research center will do even more to protect our most precious asset—our men and women in uniform.”
With the addition of Howard University, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) now has 14 university affiliated research centers. They share space with DoD officials and work with industrial partners as needed. Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, Frank Kendall (see image above again; at right), noted, “We need a team of decision-makers, researchers, scientists, engineers, and leaders who are committed to security and liberty and are excited to work on some of the world's most important problems.”
The university’s primary mission will be to maintain engineering, research, and development of tactical autonomy in support of Air Force and DoD applications. In the engineering efforts, Howard will lead a consortium of schools that includes Alabama, Delaware State, Jackson State, the University of Maryland, and Norfolk State.
The Department of the Air Force, along with the Air Force Research Laboratory, is partnering with Howard University in order to:
- Establish and maintain essential research and development capabilities for the Department of the Air Force to deliver operationally relevant autonomy.
- Advance the field of autonomy by focusing on the Secretary of the Air Force's Operational Imperatives.
- Generate robust research and development efforts with historically black colleges and universities that are expected to build institutional research capacity to a research classification of "very-high-research activity" in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
- Grow and diversify the available pool of scientists and engineers to support the Defense Department and establish a source of organic technical excellence.
- Seed a unique science, research, and development ecosystem of small and large businesses, academia, and the Department of Defense.