RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. -- Several thousand U.S. Army engineers and scientists are nearing retirement age. Army officials said they will develop and attract the new talent to fill those vacancies through a partnership with the University of North Carolina System.

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory, the Army's corporate research laboratory, formally signed an educational partnership agreement with the UNC System June 18, 2019. Officials said they hope to stimulate student interest in STEM education, particularly in areas of relevance to the Department of Defense's mission.

The agreement will facilitate new partnerships between the Army and individual UNC System institutions. It allows institutions, colleges, and even departments, to expedite their own potentially groundbreaking agreements with the laboratory.

"By streamlining the approval process for education partnership agreements at individual institutions, this agreement will open up collaboration opportunities and a pipeline of new ideas," said ARL Director Dr. Philip Perconti. "We will be able to get innovative coursework and research opportunities up and running more quickly and reach more students, attract better talent, and ultimately identify cutting edge solutions to the military's challenges."

Laboratory officials said the partnership model will help the Army to accomplish three central objectives:

• Encourage and enhance the study of STEM disciplines
• Provide technical assistance that will enhance STEM teaching throughout in the UNC System
• Leverage regional collaborative efforts in support of STEM educational goals that will benefit students, government, industry, and non-profit organizations

In pursuit of these objectives, officials said the agreement encourages partnering institutions to establish student and faculty research opportunities at the laboratory.

Providing hands on, experiential learning opportunities in state-of-the-art labs, the agreement will help STEM students and researchers apply basic academic skills and theoretical concepts to realistic contemporary applications, officials said.

In addition, the lab will help partnering institutions develop and teach new courses. North Carolina State University's proposed Hacking for Defense course will serve as a template. In this course, military customers will bring real-world battlefield challenges to teams comprising engineers, business, and management students.

Joint teams will work together to keep warfighters at the cutting edge of technology, Perconti said.

"This proposed course exemplifies how the agreement will connect the military community with faculty and students, who will earn college credit while working to find solutions to security challenges," he said.

Finally, through the partnership, UNC System institutions will b secure material and intellectual resources from ARL.

According to the agreement, surplus equipment can be loaned to or donated to partnering institutions. Partnering institutions will have access to the Army's research facilities and equipment, and the laboratory's representatives will be available to offer academic and career advice and assistance to students enrolled at partner institutions.

UNC officials said the agreement reflects the university's long and productive partnership with the U.S. military.

"Together, we will develop life-changing opportunities for our students and faculty. At the same time, our collaboration will lead to innovations that will protect liberty at home and abroad," said UNC System Interim President William Roper.

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About UNC System

The University of North Carolina System enrolls more than 230,000 students at 17 institutions including all 16 of the state's public universities, as well as the nation's first public residential high school for academically gifted students, N.C. School of Science and Mathematics. The UNC System is among the strongest and most diverse higher education systems in the nation, with over $1.5 billion in research expenditures, a wide array of HBCUs, liberal arts institutions, comprehensive universities and R-1 research institutions. Its institutions support two medical schools and a teaching hospital, two law schools, a veterinary school, a school of pharmacy, 11 nursing programs, 15 schools of education, five schools of engineering and a renowned arts conservatory. The North Carolina Arboretum, UNC Press, and the UNC Center for Public Television, with its 12-station broadcast network, are also all UNC System affiliate organizations.

About CCDC Army Research Laboratory
The CCDC Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army's corporate research laboratory, ARL discovers, innovates and transitions science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more effective to win our Nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.