N.C. A&T Joins Space Force University Partnership Program

By Jackie Torok / 12/01/2021

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Dec. 1, 2021) – North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has officially joined the U.S. Space Force University Partnership Program (UPP).

The UPP is a consortium to help meet the responsibilities of the newest branch of the U.S. military, whose personnel – called guardians – monitor the 26,000 objects circling the globe. N.C. A&T is the first and only North Carolina university named as part of the inaugural 11-member UPP cohort.

Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. and Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) during a virtual ceremony.

“This collaboration between our university and the U.S. Space Force will transform the way we equip our students to succeed in military and civil service with our nation’s most recent innovative branch,” said Martin. “Our partnership will help expand their potential to not only be globally competitive, but to be universal ‘guardians,’ explorers and contributors to our understanding and protection of space.

“We share in the Space Force’s core values of character, connection, commitment and courage here at North Carolina A&T. It is certainly encouraging to witness how those values informed the intentional and meaningful ways our institutions have engaged from the beginning of our relationship.”

A&T remains the No. 1 producer of African American undergraduates in agriculture and engineering and of master’s graduates in mathematics and statistics. As a member of the UPP, A&T will not only create a pipeline for students to pursue aerospace careers upon graduating with STEM-related degrees, but also provide expanded research opportunities for students and faculty – particularly in the College of Engineering, College of Science and Technology, Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering and multiple centers of excellence.

Additionally, the UPP opens doors to Space Force partnerships with A&T’s Air Force ROTC and Army ROTC programs as well as access to A&T and Space Force laboratories for research opportunities between A&T and Space Force partners, technical seminars and guest lectures by A&T faculty and Space Force personnel, participation on advisory and thesis committees, and service as research mentors with the Space Force

“When I think about the strengths of our academic programs and preparation of our students, I am proud to see our university become one of the colleges selected to partner with of this dynamic branch of the military,” said Provost Beryl McEwen, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “Having a history of excellence in STEM, agriculture, business, education, arts and humanities, and health and human sciences, our university represents the opportunity to yield both civilian and future military personnel to serve, innovate and advance our nation as part of the Space Force.”

A&T is one of 11 universities – including Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Purdue University – initially selected to join the UPP. Establishing strategic partnerships with this select set of nationally-renowned universities allows the Space Force to recruit and educate a diverse, high-caliber workforce, offer opportunities to advance research in specific areas of interest, and develop a 21st century, technology-savvy military service.  Research is the largest facet of the program, with A&T and the other UPP inaugural cohort members each having its own research component.

Among the criteria the Space Force used to include A&T in the cohort are 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.

Maj. Romeo White ’08, who attended the signing ceremony, served as Thompson’s aide-de-camp when he suggested the Space Force consider his alma mater for inclusion in the UPP.

Thompson said White’s connection coupled with A&T’s reputation hastened the decision to add the university to the UPP.

“Just over a year ago, I visited the campus of North Carolina A&T when we were first developing the concept for the University Partnership Program,” said Thompson. “From that first conversation with Chancellor Martin and university leaders, we knew A&T would be a model institution and critical partner to the Space Force as we built the initiative to deliver a STEM-focused workforce and advance space-related research of importance to the nation.”

After a break following the MOU signing ceremony, Joel B. Mozer, Ph.D., chief scientist of the Space Force Space Operations Command, led a virtual engagement session with A&T researchers.

A&T and the Space Force will begin working together to meet the program’s major goals, including establishing research assistantships, internship agreements, opportunities for Space Force guardians to pursue advanced degrees and both ROTC and civilian scholarship programs.

Media Contact Information: jtorok@ncat.edu

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