Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the Department of the Navy (DoN) Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), Education and Workforce Program, administered by the Office of Naval Research (ONR)

These abridged abstracts provide a summary of research grants funded in association with the annual FOA.

FOA #N00014-19-S-F003

Inspiring Students to Pursue U.S. Navy STEM Careers through Experiential Learning

Dr. Brian Kish, Florida Institute of Technology

The overall goal of this program is to inspire, engage and educate K-12 and college students about Navy missions through diverse, experiential-learning programs. Faculty from flight test, aerospace, aviation, ocean engineering and project-based learning will craft outreach campaigns, laboratory courses and summer camps designed to break through modern students’ addiction to virtual experiences and devices. The selection of topics and instructors will be custom-tailored to encourage, promote and sustain naval science and technology efforts. The goal is to have students of all ages and backgrounds touch and operate real air, sea and space systems and to solve worthwhile engineering challenges. Students will actually fly in aircraft, ride on boats, operate satellite simulators, and build, test and break robotic systems. The team will monitor the effects of the innovative educational program initiatives by repeatedly interviewing students to measure their motivation to pursue further education in STEM and their interest in career paths relevant to the Navy.

Naval STEM Program at California State University Los Angeles

Dr. Mark Tufenkjian, California State University Los Angeles

This program aims to increase the pipeline of high-quality STEM graduates who enter the Navy’s Southern California workforce equipped with relevant naval knowledge and skills. The program focuses on providing underserved and underrepresented student populations (e.g., Hispanic minorities, women, military-connected students) at California State University Los Angeles access to STEM education opportunities and a pathway to naval STEM careers. The Navy benefits by improving the quality, quantity and diversification of its future workforce, in order to sustain its technological superiority across its missions. Repeated exposure to and engagement in organized naval-relevant activities throughout a student’s undergraduate education (freshmen through senior year) will inspire them to pursue STEM careers with the Navy upon graduation. Activities include a hands-on summer program for high school female students, a program to support California State University Los Angeles’ military-connected students, enhancements to California State University Los Angeles’ Autonomous Underwater Vehicle student organization, and a new curriculum in Artificial Intelligence and Data Science.

Problem-based Initiatives for Powerful Engagement and Learning In Naval Engineering and Science (PIPELINES)

Dr. Maria Teresa Napoli, University of California Santa Barbara

Problem-based Initiatives for Powerful Engagement and Learning In Naval Engineering and Science (PIPELINES) engages community college and undergraduate students who, working in teams embedded at Navy facilities, compete in designing innovative, effective solutions to Navy science and/or engineering problems. The expanded program includes an academic year component, in addition to the summer project, further reinforcing working ties between the University of California Santa Barbara and naval partners; this will enable research collaborations to extend beyond the summer months. The team-based structure and open-ended nature that characterizes PIPELINES projects supports students’ creative thinking, further developed by training in innovation and aligned with the Naval STEM Strategy.

Shaping Experiential Research for Veteran Education (SERVE)

Dr. Bruce LaMattina, University of Tennessee

The primary objective of Shaping Experiential Research for Veteran Education (SERVE) is to provide opportunities for our military veterans to gain research experience and to eventually earn graduate degrees in STEM fields to fill the Navy’s pipeline. Many veterans continue to have a desire to serve and protect the nation, while the Navy needs leaders with research experience. Likewise, research outcomes are improved by having veteran students bring “user experience” to Navy research projects. In this effort, the University of Tennessee, in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, will (1) recruit veterans into undergraduate and graduate programs, (2) provide research training aligned with Navy research and development priorities, and (3) aid in workforce placement. The grant will provide undergraduate research experiences, graduate projects and student exchanges between the University of Tennessee, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the Navy. Enabling this effort are strong collaborations with the University of Tennessee’s Veteran Resource Center, Navy partners, national labs and defense contractors. Finally, a mentoring network will be developed that will promulgate through the entire program to increase graduation rates, improve research experiences and outcomes, and develop better leaders.

FOA #N00014-18-S-F003

Broadening Education in Naval Science & Technology with an Expanded Undergraduate Curriculum and Learning Community

Dr. James Buchholz, University of Iowa

A major expansion to our Naval Hydrodynamics certificate program is undertaken to produce a much broader Naval Science & Technology certificate with an added emphasis on autonomous naval systems.  To support students in the curricular program while increasing informal participation of a broader range of students, program development will integrate an extra-curricular learning community, anchored by a student organization focused on development of autonomous marine craft. Outreach activities will introduce Midwestern high school students to modern naval science & technology concepts and challenges, and build a brand for our program.  The project supports the 2018 National Defense Strategy by enhancing civilian workforce expertise, fostering the development of advanced autonomous systems, and promoting a culture of innovation and performance in our graduates through challenging experiential learning activities and the development of leadership skills.

Creating a Coastal Carolina Cyber Workforce Education and Awareness Pipeline for National Security (C4WEAPNS)

Dr. Stanton Greenawalt, Horry-Georgetown Technical College

In partnership with the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC)-Atlantic, Horry-Georgetown Technical College (HGTC) will establish a Security Operations Center (SOC) and Cybersecurity Forensics Lab for student hands-on development and mastery of the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) required for positions in defense and industry. This enhanced lab environment will be augmented by new and expanded certificate and degree programs in Cybersecurity and Forensics. Curriculum will be harmonized with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework to prepare graduates to successfully evaluate risk tolerance and the complexities of cyber-attacks, work within teams, and set organizational priorities for risk management.

Low-power, miniaturized Radio Frequency components for wireless communications and sensing systems to engage a broad cross-section of students for Navy-relevant STEM careers

Dr. Anupama Kaul, University of North Texas

Historically, a hallmark of the U.S. Navy’s electronic warfare technical leadership has been well-rooted in Radio Frequency (RF) engineering. The North Texas- (NT-) Navy STEM Coalition (NSC) will enable a dynamic program aimed at engaging students in the STEM disciplines broadly, with a particular Naval focus on RF engineering and RF microelectromechanical system (MEMS) components for wireless communications and sensing systems. The NT-NSC proposes three educational tasks and one research task over the course of three years to provide a balanced experience for students in this program in order to integrate education, training and research. The four tasks will engage middle school, high school, Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (Navy-JROTC), community college, undergraduate and graduate students in the core foci of the program which are: curriculum development, mentoring and training activities, diversity initiatives, and sparking interest in research for students to pursue more advanced graduate degrees in the STEM fields.

Minor Certificate Program in Computational Naval Sciences to Enable NAVAL STEM Careers

Dr. Prashant Khare, University of Cincinnati

The overall goal of this program is to train the next generation STEM workforce to maintain U.S. Navy’s technological superiority across all its missions. This will be accomplished by identifying STEM needs in the context of computation-based science and technology careers in the U.S. Navy, and developing an exploratory self-sustaining computation-centric certificate program at two universities, University of Cincinnati and Old Dominion University. Specifically, we will address the ever-increasing demand of computational science enabled workforce in autonomous systems, artificial intelligence, and fluid & combustion sciences. A variety of Naval applications will be used as case-studies such that future Navy recruits will be exposed to, and become proficient in understanding and solving Navy-specific technical challenges using computational approaches.

Retooling Veterans with Service- and Combat-Connected Disabilities in Advanced Virtual Engineering

Dr. Mesbah Uddin, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

This program aims at providing graduate level education and training to veterans with disabilities in the areas of “advanced design and analysis using high performance computing” by augmenting the existing Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering graduate program at UNC Charlotte’s College of Engineering with two additional navy/defense-application oriented, project based applied coursework, and applied-research based dissertation/thesis work along the same line. The veteran participants in the program will be taught first the fundamental principles of computational design and analysis, and then they will be transitioned to the practical product design process. The curriculum is designed as such that the graduates from this program can easily adapt themselves into other career opportunities as information technology experts, data scientists, and computer programmers, which are among the critical areas of HQP need as identified in the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS). Though the program is tailored primarily towards retraining of veterans, the Naval application related coursework and research projects will be open to all U.S. nationals which will enable the Navy and DoD to have access to a larger pool of U.S. national talents trained in Virtual Engineering or in Engineering using Advanced High Performance Computing.

STEM Education Network for Sensor Research (SENSOR) Pilot

Dr. Mark Moldwin, University of Michigan

STEM Education Network for SensOr Research (SENSOR) is an innovative and new program at the University of Michigan that engages science and engineering undergraduates in a variety of research, educational, mentoring, and career exploration experiences focused on sensors and algorithm development. The SENSOR program includes (1) a summer engineering laboratory project for underrepresented Engineering students, (2) a 10-week summer research experience program working with sensors in a variety of contexts, including autonomous vehicles, robotics and space engineering and exploration, and (3) professional development opportunities including those around Navy-related STEM careers. In addition, SENSOR will develop a larger cohesive STEM education and training program engaging 11 universities as part of the NASA Michigan Space Grant Consortium to connect the broader regional sensor community.

Workforce Development Pipeline for Microgrid and Advanced Power Systems Careers

Dr. Nathan Johnson, University of Arizona

Eight training programs in microgrids and advanced power systems will create a pipeline of skilled personnel including Navy scientists, engineers, technicians, Veterans, and active-duty and their dependents. The breadth of programs begins to inspire and engage K-12 students, continues with advanced training in university/college institutions to educate and attract, and extends to on-the-job workforce initiatives to support employment, development, and retention. Over 1,200 people are expected to directly benefit from training, with more to benefit indirectly through a train-the-trainer program. Training will be delivered online, hands-on at the Arizona State University Microgrid and Grid Modernization Test Bed, and at Naval installations in the U.S. Southwest.

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