The Department of Defense announced the selection of 12 awardees for the National Defense Education Program Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) awards.
These distinguished educational and industry partners will receive more than $31 million over a three-year period to establish or expand STEM education, outreach, and workforce initiatives for students and educators from early childhood through postsecondary. The goal of this effort is to establish programs to better position the current and next-generation STEM workforce, which is critical to the Department and our Nation’s security.
“The Department of Defense is proud to support the STEM workforce our Nation needs to maintain our technological superiority far into the future,” said Michael Kratsios, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. “We are particularly pleased with the range of initiatives pursued by this year’s awardees, with programs for early childhood education, post-secondary study, and outreach to student veterans. This investment will be critical to expanding STEM opportunities to students, educators, and veterans in underserved, underrepresented, and military-connected communities.”
These awardees, which include K-12 and higher education organizations, non-profits, and industry, will provide innnovative opportunities to implement STEM education and outreach, while providing awareness of the Department’s STEM career opportunities.
Activities will support the DoD STEM strategic plan and align to the 2018 Federal STEM strategic plan. Several of these efforts will include collaboration with the Department’s laboratories and military installations across the country.
The 12 awardees and their efforts include:
Alabama A&M University, Huntsville, Alabama: The 3-Step Approach Providing a Pipeline of Skilled Minority STEM Professionals for the DoD Future Workforce initiative will increase awareness of DoD science and technology priority areas to prepare for technical careers in national security and defense. The multi-university team consisting of Alabama A&M University (HBCU), University of Houston–Victoria (HSI), and Navajo Technical University (tribal college) will bolster the number and quality of eligible minority STEM students participating in defense-related internships and career opportunities in the greater Huntsville, AL, area and beyond.
Center for the Innovative Training of Youth STEM NOLA, New Orleans, Louisiana: The Expanding STEM Educational Access for Military-Connected Children across the Gulf South initiative will offer a suite of programs to serve military-connected families in four communities, all of which have a strong military presence. STEM NOLA’s innovative model works to strengthen the STEM ecosystem for underserved students. STEM NOLA creates an ecosystem of support for students in pre-kindergarten through college—and particularly low-income youth and youth of color—to explore and build skills in STEM-related subjects and fields with increasing complexity and intensity.
Cook Inlet Tribal Council Inc., Anchorage, Alaska: Operation Innovation will respond to the limited capacity of Alaska’s public schools to develop an inclusive STEM education ecosystem by piloting a cost-effective model for delivering equipment, instructional modules, teacher training, and direct student instruction to urban and rural Alaska schools with populations of underserved, underrepresented, or underperforming students. These efforts will recognize and support educational needs specific to Alaska Native children, as well as active military-dependent students who, like Alaska Native students, often struggle with social isolation that affects school engagement and performance.
Goshen Education Consulting Inc., Edwardsville, Illinois Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics for Kids (i.e., Dependents) of Active Military Personnel (STEMKAMP) will partner with 10 military-connected school districts across the United States with existing successful hands-on summer science camps for students in third through eighth grade. These students will gain a better understanding of current STEM careers, develop basic engineering skills, practice higher-order thinking skills, and gain the self-confidence and motivation to continue on paths toward STEM careers.
Hillsborough County Public School District, Tampa, Florida: K-8 Pipeline to DoD Careers will provide a K-8 pipeline to DoD careers through a rigorous, engaging, in-school curriculum related to DoD science and technology priorities, as well as out-of-school-time opportunities offered throughout the school year and during the summer to augment the formal STEM offerings. The goal is to increase the number of students who are prepared for the 21st century DoD STEM workforce.
RTI International (RTI), Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Transdisciplinary Project-Based Learning in the Final Frontier will comprise a consortium of educational institutions and companies, including RTI, Cumberland County Schools, DreamUp, and the Emerging Technologies Institute. This initiative will build up the effectiveness of teachers while providing innovative student engagement as levers of change. The STARward STEM program is purposefully designed to ignite students’ passion for STEM while illuminating new and exciting STEM career paths by starting early, incorporating technology, and using innovative partnerships to fuel this mission.
Trident Technical College (TTC), Charleston, South Carolina: Building Outreach Opportunities to Motivate and Inspire the Next Generation in STEM (BOOMING in STEM) will help to address acute workforce needs. Leveraging existing college and community strengths and resources, the program will create new engagement experiences by providing clear pathways for students to explore STEM options and train for STEM careers. This will strengthen and expand the talent pipeline and help address the need for well-trained, diverse employees in fields such as advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity, which are critical DoD priorities. As one of the largest community colleges in South Carolina, TTC is the Charleston region’s main provider of technical education and university transfer preparation.
University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois: The Educational and Research Training Collaborative: Workforce Development for National Defense inititative will create a unique program of long-term mentored research experiences for undergraduate students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This initiative will engage undergraduates to prepare them for technical careers in national defense by recruiting academically talented students and prioritizing student veterans interested in STEM.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois: The Expanding the Pipeline and Enhancing Education of Students Pursuing Careers in Space initiative will address STEM education and outreach programs focused on space, while expanding the pipeline and enhancing education of students pursuing careers in space. This initiative will create an integrated set of educational resources focused on space and then implement these resources strategically in undergraduate classrooms, K-12 classrooms, outreach events, teacher training events, and workshops.
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California: CareerFair.ai: Increasing Connections to Fast-Growing STEM Careers will develop and disseminate CareerFair.ai, a web-based portal where students can interact for free with virtual STEM professionals in DoD priority areas. This initiative will enable STEM professionals to author, revise, and publish their own individual “virtual agent-mentors,” which is an artificial intelligence tool virtually available to students interested in the DoD priority areas. As a result, these “virtual-agent mentors” will create synergistic relationships among students, university centers, and STEM professionals to increase recruitment and retention throughout the Department.
University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio: The primary goal of Nurturing STEM in Early Childhood for Military Connected Families (NURTURES) is to transform early childhood science teaching based upon DoDEA College and Career Ready Standards for Science to measurably increase student science, literacy, and math achievement through high-impact STEM educational experiences for students and teachers.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia: The Introducing Undergraduates to Restricted Research initiative will expand and refine the “Intro to Restricted Research” course; increase class size and create an application process for students to participate in this course; and offer the class in both fall and spring semesters so that 200 engineering students can be introduced per year to challenges, research areas, and career opportunities in support of DoD. Additionally, the course materials (course plans, lectures, and videos) will be created and distributed to other universities willing to teach the class at their own schools.
Read the Awardees' Abstracts