FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz,-As the Department of Defense (DoD) continues to expand its partnerships with institutions of higher education and the private sector, Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) and Fort Huachuca are partnering with the University of Arizona (UoA) to leverage technical expertise and further accelerate the innovation of emerging technologies.
Collaboration between the military and the nation’s leading colleges and universities has existed since the Morrill Land-Grant College Act of 1862. However, it was not until the 20th Century that partnerships between government and higher education exponentially grew as a result of World War II but then culminated shortly after the Space Race. Nevertheless, America’s adversaries are now targeting science and technology research; this threat now makes it easier for near-peer competitors to narrow their technological capability gaps with those of the United States.
In response, to the inherent near-peer threats DoD is intensifying its partnership efforts related to science and technology research to maintain and widen the military’s advantage in combat power across multiple domains. Institutions of higher education also see a need to foster partnerships with government as a way to contribute to the nation’s stability.
"Partnerships with government organizations have multiple benefits, including the ability to bring academic prowess to bear on challenges facing our military and national security infrastructure, thus fostering a sense of teamwork while promoting innovation and 'outside-the-box' thinking,” said Austin K. Yamada, President and CEO, University of Arizona Applied Research Corp (UoA-ARC).
“Likewise, as part of U.S. Army’s concerted efforts to help DoD achieve its global collaborative network initiatives, NETCOM is looking at opportunities, where the Army may be able to shape and sponsor university level capstone projects for senior students,” said Dr. Ronald Richards, NETCOM, Command Business Office Director.
Not only does the Army and DoD benefit from partnerships with higher education; the colleges and universities also benefit via academic projects, career opportunities for students and the advancement of Research and Development (RD).
"These partnerships help expose students to the types of challenges facing government organizations and provide valuable experience with the processes, procedures and operations of the government in order to motivate and prepare students for potential careers in service to the U.S. government,” said Yamada
“By allowing and sponsoring college students to participate on scientific collaborative efforts the Army can further expand its cyber initiatives like those of Big Data, 5G and Quantum related technologies,” emphasized Richards.
From a partnership point-of-view, Dr. Richards explains that capturing, sharing and collaborating on emerging technology projects such as those associated with Data Science (DS), a myriad of copious beneficiaries can often be harvested.
“Collective cooperation among the DoD, local, state and federal agencies, academia and the private industry using Big Data platforms are just one of many opportunities NETCOM and UoA are striving to leverage,” said Richards.
“Hence being able to develop a data sharing technology on a grandiose scale allows us to share critical data important to both business and defense intelligence as this can have a profound impact on how the DoD and the United States manages its national cyber security strategy. If anything data sharing allows us to remain in a proactive versus a reactionary posture,” stated Richards.
Thus, furthering NETCOM’s commitment to partnerships with high education the command will continue participating in “Home-on-Home Visits,” just like the one held at Fort Huachuca last month.
“The UofA team will reciprocate this visit (Home on Home II) and host Fort Huachuca in Tucson during the fall of 2021 to provide overviews about its programs, projects, and research efforts,” stated Richards.
Although, the stake holders of emerging technologies stand to benefit from government and academic partnerships, it is the students, who perhaps gain the most out this practice.
"Partnering with government organizations also provides benefit to students. Many students are unaware of what the government sector has to offer, including stable employment and excellent benefits. Depending on the organization, these government agencies can provide access to experiences and opportunities that cannot be found anywhere else," said Prof. Gary Packard, UoA, Dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology.
"Our government partnerships have resulted in numerous students receiving full scholarships, summer internships and fellowships, and many of our students have been recruited and hired by our government partners,” mentioned Packard.
According to UoA educators government partnerships with academia also help government, industry and students align career fields with work-force needs.
"Partnerships with government organizations provide multiple benefits to students, the programs and curriculum development. It is important to understand the current needs of government organizations as well as private companies to ensure that our curriculum meets the requirements of employers,” said Packard.
"Educating students on the opportunities in the public sector is important. Students often mistake government work with the military. There are unknown opportunities and certain misperceptions that require education and these types of experiences to place our talented students in the right jobs," reemphasized Packard.
However, aligning curriculum with industry needs is only one-part of the career solution set. Likewise, the other part of the job-occupation solution set is the hands on experience students acquire from government partnerships with higher education.
"Having capstone projects where students can work as a team to solve relevant real-world problems can increase the learning experience immensely. Not only do students get more out of it, but there also is the potential for the students to come up with innovative solutions to solve government problems. Working on an actual project is more engaging for students than working with a canned scenario or general research project,” said Packard.
"Partnerships with government organizations provide the basis for students to gain real-world insight and hands-on experience through capstone projects focused on the types of challenges affecting our national security. They also help expose students to how their education forms the basis for problem-solving and help prepare students for potential careers in service to the United States government,” underlined Yamada.
Not only will UoA benefit from the partnership between the university and NETCOM but the close proximity between Fort Huachuca to the outlying communities in Southern Arizona will also allow for local students to participate in the collaboration efforts.
“Yes definitely, the collaboration will expose NETCOM to prospective UoA students, which serves as a recruiting tool for NETCOM to attract students. The close proximity to Tucson will undoubtedly be favorable for NETCOM to attract UoA students, who wish to stay local, when seeking employment after graduation,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Deshawn L. Bell, NETCOM, Command Chief Warrant Officer.
“Likewise, the collaboration exposes UoA to NETCOM, whereby NETCOM can influence the students that are excelling ‘on working NETCOM problems’ to consider the command's Intern Programs, which would ultimately lead to long-term relationships with NETCOM,” concluded Bell.
For more information on NETCOM visit: https://www.army.mil/netcom