The DoD Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) / Minority-Serving Institutions (MIs) Program is an annual summer research program offered to undergraduate and graduate students studying STEM disciplines at HBCU/MI schools. The program provides a bridge between classrooms and real-world experiences and aims to increase the number of minority scientists and engineers who choose careers with the DoD.
The DoD relies on a strong, STEM-capable workforce to achieve critical functions of its mission. From discovering emerging technologies to developing the next-generation workforce, DoD depends on brilliant STEM professionals to continue to innovate. The HBCUs/MIs Program plays an important role in helping the DoD strengthen its agile scientific footprint by engaging with the next generation of STEM talent during summer internships. By providing a forum for standout STEM scholars to present their own research at symposiums attended by DoD scientists and engineers, DoD remains on the cutting edge of innovation.
The HBCUs/MIs Program is sponsored by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and is designed to foster student interest in STEM education and careers in DoD while supporting the DoD’s objective of developing a diverse, motivated, and highly skilled civilian workforce.
The Summer 2021 HBCUs/MIs Program was held virtually for 32 scholars from 16 different schools. For 10 weeks, students conducted relevant research supervised by scientists and engineers from 15 defense laboratories and facilities who shared their vast experience with operational research and management science. Students then presented their research results at a concluding symposium attended by DoD STEM professionals.
DoD HBCUs/MIs Program and Outreach Director Mrs. Evelyn Kent provided opening remarks to kick off the symposium, emphasizing the importance of mentoring the next generation of STEM talent. Acting Deputy Director for Research, Technology, and Laboratories Dr. Jagadeesh Pamulapati also provided keynote remarks highlighting the DoD’s need for a diverse, STEM-literate workforce and the necessity of having every mind engaged in the DoD science and technology enterprise.
Student presentations centered on areas of critical importance to the DoD and the country: topics ranged from power source applications for battlefield awareness to sensing in remote locations and understanding the impact of mutations on the coronavirus spike protein.
Student Session 1
During breakout sessions, students learned how to expand their research projects, received tips for pursuing advanced degrees, and explored additional DoD-supported STEM learning opportunities such as the SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program (smartscholarship.org). Students were enthusiastic about further developing their research skills and learning more about the defense research enterprise.
Student Session 2
ABOUT DOD HBCUS/MIS PROGRAM
The DoD HBCUs/MIs Program consistently strives to build a more diverse pool of scientists and engineers to meet future defense-related needs. Initiatives such as the summer internship helps drive the program toward its goals to (a) enhance HBCUs/MIs research programs and capabilities in scientific and engineering disciplines critical to the national security functions of DoD; (b) expand the capacity of HBCUs/MIs to participate in DoD research programs and activities; and (c) increase the number of graduates, including underrepresented minorities, in STEM fields important to the defense mission. For more information on the DoD HBCUs/MIs Program, visit https://basicresearch.defense.gov/Programs/HBCU-MI-Program.