Howard University Makes HBCU, Air Force History With $90M Research Deal

Howard University has been charged to be part of the solution to improve America’s new-age technology and to strengthen and protect America’s military.

According to ABC 7 News, the Washington D.C.-based institution is the first in HBCU ((Historically Black Colleges and Universities) history to lead one of the Pentagon’s 15 university-affiliated research centers (UARC) sponsored by the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Department of Defense. This move also makes Air Force history.

“It brings to culmination, our mission and the work we have been doing to get here as well,” said Howard University president, Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick. Since the establishment of an ROTC detachment in 1918, Howard University has had a proud military tradition of organized training.

In addition, Howard inked a $90 million contract for military research with a focus on tactical autonomy and human-machine teams. The university will receive increments of $12 million per year for five years to fund research, faculty and students.

Leveraging tactical autonomy, the Department of Defense can use automated technology to carry out short-term missions in the land, sky and air. This technological edge also aims to meet long-term national security goals, including preventing U.S. troops from entering dangerous territory.

“Today as we work to build enduring advantages for our brave men and women in uniform, we must seek the latest innovations in science and engineering,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III told students and faculty at Howard University, per a news release.

“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.”

As a UARC, Howard has also been enlisted to lead nine other historically Black colleges and universities in the research and development of tactical autonomy. 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.