Army announces career pathways at Spelman STEM event

By U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public AffairsNovember 2, 2020

Army announces plan to hire Spelman College students and graduates
Army announces career pathways at Spelman STEM event
Black female scholars studying science, technology, engineering and math disciplines at Spelman College benefit from a new Defense Department center of excellence managed by Army researchers. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The Army announced pathways to hire Spelman College students and graduates at its corporate laboratory during a recent virtual event.

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory is managing a $2.9 million cooperative agreement from the Department of Defense to support the school’s Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM. Affiliated with the University’s Office of Research, Innovation and Collaboration, the center is the first of its kind and serves as the hub for all science, technology, engineering and math undergraduate research and training activities at Spelman, an  Atlanta-based historically Black women’s college.

Dr. Patrick Baker, laboratory director, said the Center of Excellence builds on Spelman’s reputation of recruiting, retaining and graduating minority women in the sciences, and that by investing in the research, academics, leadership and professional development of faculty and students, the Army can better cultivate the diverse talent pool he believes is critical to advancing research knowledge necessary to provide our warfighters equipment to fight and win on the battlefield.

“For the U.S. to succeed and to win, our country has to have great people who really study and know the science, technology, engineering and the math behind military engagements,” Baker said during the streamed event. “What we study in the next 30 years will certainly be different than the last 30 years but people will always underpin our success. This agreement is about people and it’s about Army and it’s about our mutual success together.”

He invited the Spelman team to embrace the collaboration with Army as members of the Army’s foundational research team, and to view this teaming as a perpetual learning opportunity and as vitally important to making a life-changing difference for Soldiers and their families.

A handful of Spelman faculty will be selected for summer residencies to conduct research on Army-relevant projects alongside military scientists and engineers at the laboratory’s Maryland locations.

The Army also plans to name a DOD Center of Excellence Scholar-in-Residence at Spelman next year to engage with Spelman faculty and students by presenting research seminars, delivering workshops, and/or teaching courses. These semester to one-year assignments are designed to help closely align Spelman faculty to DOD modernization priorities, said Dr. Asha Hall, a division chief in the laboratory’s Vehicle Technology Directorate who co-manages the Center on behalf of the Defense Department along with Dr. Barbara Nichols, a deputy Division Chief in the laboratory’s Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate.

“Spelman students can compete for academic scholarships, academic year and summer research internships, and access a series of professional development opportunities that bring leading female scientists and engineers to campus for the Women in STEM speakers’ series and as visiting professors, for example,” Hall said.

Researchers hope to develop a diverse future workforce.

This cooperative agreement will help develop a pipeline of Spelman students, who ideally, will complete internships where they’ll be exposed to Army research priorities,” Hall said. “We’re looking to cultivate a talent pool trained and ready to work for the Army. Through this initiative, we’re preparing the future Army workforce and leaders today,” she said.

The laboratory funds STEM research programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Institutions; STEM programs for middle and high school students; and programs and opportunities for faculty and staff to interact with Army scientists and engineers, to access scientific and technical information, and to collaborate with other educational institutions or research facilities such as the DOD laboratories.

Spelman College is one of six model institutions for excellence designated by the National Science Foundation for its track record of recruiting, retaining and graduating minority women in the sciences. Over the past three academic years, the percentage of students pursuing STEM majors at Spelman has grown. In 2017, 26% of Spelman students received degrees in STEM compared to 16% at other HBCUs and 17% at other liberal arts colleges.

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CCDC Army Research Laboratory is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army’s corporate research laboratory, ARL is operationalizing science to achieve transformational overmatch. 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 successful at winning the nation’s wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the Army Futures Command.