With so much attention focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education recently, people are curious about the best programs focused on these disciplines. For K-12 students, top programs in STEM education include Teach for America and the KIPP charter schools. But which institutions are best for college students studying STEM disciplines?
One way to answer to this question is to look for Centers of Excellence (COE) in STEM. Lately, the United States Department of Defense (DoD) has established five Centers of Excellence through the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions (HBCU/MI) Program. Read on to learn more about the Department of Defense’s HBCU/MI Program and the Centers of Excellence funded through it.
About the Centers of Excellence
The DoD’s HBCU/MI Program is overseen by the Basic Research Office (BRO). The HBCU/MI Program is one of several that the BRO oversees. Together, all of these programs are intended to drive the direction of DoD basic research investments, coordinate and conduct oversight of DoD basic research programs, improve the science and engineering workforce and public outreach, enhance university-industry collaboration, and engage with the academic research community and international partners.
The BRO’s HBCU/MI Program consists of several components. One is an equipment award that saw $23.2 million go to 59 HBCU/MI in 2019. Another is a faculty fellowship allowing HBCU/MI faculty members to participate in research at an Army Research Lab. In addition, there is a summer internship for both undergraduate and graduate HBCU/MI students to engage in research at DoD facilities. Lastly is the COE initiative that has seen five Centers of Excellence established.
North Carolina A&T University
North Carolina A&T University houses the Center of Excellence in Autonomy. Also known as TECHLAV, which stands for Testing, Evaluation, and Control of Heterogeneous Large-Scale Systems of Autonomous Vehicles, this center was established in 2015. TECHLAV collaborates with the University of Texas at San Antonio and the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute.
Two areas of research predominate at TECHLAV. They encompass the following:
- Cooperative control and teaming of Large-Scale Autonomous Systems of Vehicles (LSASVs) integrated with human operators.
- Evaluation, testing, verification, and validation of LSASVs. This center was funded by the DoD with $1 million for five years.
Norfolk State University
The Center of Excellence in Cyber Security (COE-CS) is at Norfolk State University. This center, which was established in 2015, collaborates with the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center at Old Dominion University. The primary focus of the COE-CS is on developing cloud-based, big-data analysis capabilities.
The COE-CS concentrates on Cyber Modeling, Simulation, Analysis, and Experimentation (CMSA&E). According to the center, CMSA&E represents the next step in the evolution of efforts to enhance situational awareness and provides support for rapid decision-making when it comes to cybersecurity. The COE-CS was funded by the DoD with $1 million over the course of five years.
Prairie View A&M University
Also funded by the DoD with $1 million over five years beginning in 2015 was the Center of Excellence in Research and Education for big military Data InTelligence (CREDIT Center) at Prairie View A&M University. With its leadership at Prairie View A&M University, the CREDIT Center also lists one collaborator from Stony Brook University.
Research at the CREDIT Center focuses on four areas. The first area concentrates on a cloud-based computing platform. The other three areas all interact with this first area. These three other areas focus on secure and robust data aggregation and storage, information extraction and event detection, and visualization and interaction.
Unlike the first three COE, the STEM Scholars Center of Excellence at Hampton University was established in 2017. This center’s programming consists of a scholarship that provides high-achieving undergraduate STEM students with funding for tuition, fees, room, and board for four years. It also involves a research internship at a DoD laboratory during the summer after the students’ sophomore and junior years.
In 2018, the STEM Scholars Program enrolled 17 students. The students are able to major in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, physics, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, or computer engineering. This initiative was funded by the DoD with $4 million.
The most recent Center of Excellence to be established by the DoD is the Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM at Spelman College. The center, which was established in 2019, will serve as a central hub of activity for all undergraduate STEM-related research and training efforts at the college.
The new center aims to focus particularly on computer science, mathematics, and physics. It expects to provide access to research support, academic enrichment, and professional development through mentoring. Additionally, the center plans to begin a Women in STEM Speaker Series and to establish collaborations between students, faculty members, and DoD personnel.