By Lynn Kirby, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
/ Published August 09, 2021
Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond and University of North Dakota President Andy Armacost sign a Memorandum of Understanding Aug 9, 2021 in Robin Hall in Grand Forks, N.D. Photo by Shawna Noel Schill
The U.S. Space Force announced its University Partnership Program at the University of North Dakota during a Memorandum of Understanding signing event Aug. 9.
Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond joined UND President Andy Armacost on campus to sign the MOU.
“The Space Force faces some of the toughest challenges in engineering, science, and technology,” said Raymond. “Space is hard. We need our nation’s brightest minds working to help us tackle these problems. That is why we have established the University Partnership Program to harness the innovation at universities across our country. Today, I’m excited towelcome the University of North Dakota as our first official UPP member, with ten more schools to follow in the coming months.”
The ten additional universities on track to join the partnership in fiscal year ’21 are:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
University of Colorado System (beginning with Boulder and Colorado Springs)
University of Texas System (beginning with Austin and El Paso)
“We are excited for this incredible opportunity to partner with the Space Force in developing students and Guardians into high-tech problem-solvers,” said Armacost. “Students and faculty will apply their expertise to projects vital to the Space Force mission to deliver impactful solutions for increasing efficiency, resiliency and sustainability for space capabilities.”
Universities were selected based on four criteria: the quality of STEM degree offerings and space-related research laboratories and initiatives; a robust ROTC program; a diverse student population; and degrees and programming designed to support military, veterans and their families in pursing higher education.
Signing an MOU is only the first step in defining the partnership. Next, the Space Force will work with UND and each university that follows to outline specific implementation milestones to meet the program’s four main goals.
Establish opportunities for world-class research, advanced academic degrees, and workforce and leadership development for USSF Guardians
Identify and pursue research areas of mutual interest with member universities, individually and collectively
Establish scholarship, internship and mentorship opportunities for university students and ROTC cadets
Recruit and develop diverse officer, enlisted, and civilian Guardians with a particular focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
The Space Force designed the UPP to identify, develop and retain a diverse STEM-capable workforce, but also recognizes there are secondary benefits of the program.
“Students who participate in the research or development opportunities created through the UPP do not need to become military or civilian Guardians,” said Raymond. “Our nation is depending on the next generations of scientists and engineers to help us solve the most challenging problems across a variety of industries. Any knowledge gained from the Space Force partnership is ultimately for the benefit of our society.”