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Howard University Becomes First HBCU to Partner With the Pentagon After Winning $90M Contract

Howard University sets a precedent as the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to become a lead institution for a new U.S. Department of Defense research center. The research center, sponsored by the U.S. Air Force, is a first for this arm of the military and is focused on tactical autonomy.

"Responsibly used autonomous systems make our military faster, smarter and stronger," Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said via a news release. "They can identify threats to our troops in real-time and they can help our technical crews conduct maintenance more safely."

HU is the 15th university-affiliated research center (UARC) sponsored by the DOD and will also receive a $90 million contract in increments of $12 million per year for five years to fund research, faculty and students. “I’d started talking to my team about us bringing a national lab to an HBCU,” said Howard University President Wayne A.J. Fredricks. “At that time it sounded audacious; to become the 15th institution to have a university affiliated research center was nowhere on our radar.”

An UARC is a DOD-supported non-profit research organization connected with a university that has a specialized area of domain expertise or specialization, which supports the long-term needs of the Defense Department. Research will be conducted by students and faculty including other HBCUs, creating a consortium of research institutions.

"That means building more bridges to America's outstanding STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] community. You see, we need your ideas; we need your creativity, and we need to draw on the skills of all of our people,” said Austin.

Howard University will head the group of universities that will participate in the newest UARC. Those universities include Jackson State University, Mississippi; Tuskegee University, Alabama; Hampton University, Virginia; Bowie State University, Maryland; Norfolk State University, Virginia; Delaware State University, Delaware; Florida Memorial University, Florida; and Tougaloo College, Mississippi.

The receipt of this contract means the University has raised more than double the $100 million dollar fundraising goal announced in 2018 to be achieved by 2024.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the United States of America has the strongest fighting force in human history,” said Austin. “And thanks to new partnerships like this one, we're going to keep it that way. That's the American way, and it's the Howard way."

1 Comment

Dima Santarskiy
Dima Santarskiy
Feb 01, 2023


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