The Department of Defense (DOD), through the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), has launched the DOD Aerospace Education Research and Innovation Center (AERIC) at Tuskegee University in Alabama.
Awarded through the DOD historically Black college and university (HBCU) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) Research and Education Program, AERIC will support undergraduate research in materials and aerospace sciences relevant to DOD and the aerospace industry.
AERIC is a congressional add funded at $2 million which was sponsored by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense.
Established at an institution that was the home of the Tuskegee Airmen and is today the number one producer of Black aerospace engineers in the nation, AERIC is devoted to expanding the future aerospace technical workforce with a particular focus on underrepresented populations in the United States.
To help fill the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) pipeline, AERIC will support two-year research projects in the areas of fatigue damage tolerance, experimental aerodynamics, and the performance of materials and components under extreme environmental conditions.
“The establishment of centers of excellence plays a vital role in our defense enterprise by stimulating research and innovation for the next generation of STEM leaders,” said Dr.
Jagadeesh Pamulapati, director of the Office of Research, Technology, and Laboratories in OUSD(R&E).
“Notably, beyond conducting research that enhances our ability to respond to threats and remain technologically superior, HBCUs serve the nation by educating a significant number of talented scientists and engineers.
By supporting HBCUs and MSIs, we are cultivating a research enterprise that broadens idea sharing while expanding the pool of reliable STEM professionals able to meet both our mission and our workforce objectives.”
Located in Tuskegee University’s Engineering Department, AERIC is positioned to grow the DOD aerospace technical workforce through speaker series with DOD staff and summer internship placements at defense laboratories, ultimately preparing scholars for careers in critical DOD industries.
In addition to partnering with DOD, AERIC will collaborate with Wichita State University, Boeing, Dynetics, and Chevron to further the center’s research and education agenda.