DAHLGREN, Va. –
Our nation’s defense relies on a deep talent pool of scientists and engineers to develop the weapons, systems and technologies that keep us safe in a world of ever-evolving enemy threats. Educational Partnership Agreements (EPA) are key to the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division’s (NSWCDD) strategy in keeping that talent pool filled to the brim.
According to NSWCDD Chief Technology Officer Jennifer Clift, the division has more than 200 formal agreements with industry, academia and community partners, including 81 Education Agreements with academic institutions and ten Cooperative Research and Development Agreements with university partners. Continuing with that trend, NSWCDD recently announced that it entered into an EPA with the University of the District of Columbia (UDC).
“We are committed to increasing and enhancing our academic partnerships,” Clift said. “Our goals are to provide opportunities for academia to contribute to and leverage from innovative research and development at NSWCDD, enhance STEM education and outreach, grow our recruiting pipeline and enable collaborative research to accelerate technology developments for the warfighter.”
NSWCDD Technical Director Dale Sisson Jr., SES, and UDC President Ronald Mason made the partnership official during a signing event Aug. 9.
Sisson said NSWCDD has a varied portfolio that has a tremendous need for talented interns and works hard to convert those internships into permanent jobs. “Our intern conversion rate is very high,” he said. “Our goal while they’re here is to pair them with mentors, provide hands-on research, development, testing and evaluation experience, and show them the great opportunities available to them to contribute to their country while being paid a competitive salary.”
“UDC has the right workforce for you,” Mason responded. “We look forward to our students having the opportunity to gain invaluable experience while enhancing their ability to secure good jobs in the future.”
UDC is a historically black university (HBCU) founded in 1851. It is the only public university in the nation’s capital and offers education in a variety of disciplines, including its School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The Secretary of Defense authorized defense laboratory leaders to seek out and enter into education agreements for the purpose of promoting and enhancing study in STEM-related fields in 2010. Through the new EPA, NSWCDD can lend equipment to UDC and provide expert personnel to mentor students and support curriculum development for UDC graduate programs that can also be offered to our workforce. In return, UDC provides NSWCDD with a fresh and diverse stream of new talent and the ability to assist with research and technology development. NSWCDD personnel will also be able to take advantage of UDC designed online courses to upskill and gain new credentials.
UDC Vice President for Research Dr. Victor McCrary noted that the date of the signing was significant because it coincided with President Joe Biden’s signing of the CHIPS+ Act. The bill establishes an International Technology Security and Innovation Fund to support secure semiconductor supply chains and the development and implementation of telecommunications networks. “The bill includes funding for emerging research at HBCUs and increasing regional innovation in places like King George County,” McCrary pointed out.
“Partnering with UDC is a tremendous opportunity,” said Clift. “We have been extremely fortunate to work with Dr. McCrary on game changing national STEM initiatives.” Through this partnership, NSWCDD and UDC will be executing a joint grant that will significantly enhance STEM education and outreach for underserved and underrepresented communities.