For Immediate Release: July 7, 2021
By Warren Duffie Jr., Office of Naval Research
ARLINGTON, Va.—To build new research partnerships and strengthen existing ones, the Department of the Navy’s (DoN) Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Institutions (HBCU/MI) Program—located at the Office of Naval Research (ONR)—recently hosted its Naval Opportunity Awareness Workshop (OAW).
The two-day workshop—held virtually this year due to the pandemic—targeted college and university presidents, vice presidents, provosts, faculty, staff and students from HBCU/MIs. It highlighted research opportunities within the Navy and Marine Corps, summer faculty/sabbatical research initiatives, and student internships and scholarships.
Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Lorin C. Selby gave the welcome address: “Winning teams are diverse teams, and require diverse ideas and different ways of thinking. The work we do in the Naval Research Enterprise is critically important as we support our Sailors and Marines worldwide. HBCU/MIs are valued partners in that mission.”
The DoN HBCU/MI Program provides avenues for HBCU/MI faculty and students to collaborate with scientists and engineers at naval labs and warfare centers, on projects of mutual interest. These include student fellowships and internships, as well as faculty research experiences ranging from summer fellowships to full sabbaticals.
Although HBCU/MIs represent less than 2 percent of U.S. higher education learning institutions, they produce 25 percent of African-American STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) graduates.
The Naval OAW provides a critical platform for direct engagement between the DoN and key stakeholders, potential grantees and future partners at HBCU/MIs. It also serves as a recruitment tool to get more HBCU/MI faculty involved in naval-relevant scientific research—and attract students to internships.
“HBCU/MI faculty and students represent a huge, relatively untapped asset that can benefit the Navy and Marine Corps,” said Dr. Reginald Williams, acting director of the DoN HBCU/MI Program. “By incorporating their ideas, innovations and creativity into naval research efforts, we can maintain our nation’s competitive edge over our adversaries.”
The 2021 Naval OAW discussed several new initiatives the DoN is launching this year with HBCU/MIs and partners such as the Department of Defense (DoD) HBCU/MI Program and Outreach, as well as the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (Research, Technology and Laboratories).
These efforts include a five-week skills “boot camp” for incoming freshmen interested in pursuing an undergraduate degree in a STEM discipline; three new virtual student internships at the Naval Sea Systems Command, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery and Navy Facilities Engineering Systems Command; and a fellowship program for researchers working at HBCU/MIs.
“From the sea floor to the surface of the Earth, from the planet’s atmosphere to outer space, the Naval Research and Development Establishment is committed to helping the U.S. sustain its technological advantage,” said Dr. Bruce Danly, director of research at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). “To make this possible, we at NRL want to engage with students and researchers from all backgrounds and scientific disciplines.”
Naval OAW attendees also heard ONR program officers and senior leaders speak about research areas of interest to the command, discuss the best ways to reach program officers and provide tips for submitting successful funding proposals.
“ONR is a place where you can talk to someone before developing your proposal, in order to find out whether your topic aligns with our research interests,” said Dr. Tom Drake, head of ONR’s Ocean Battlespace and Expeditionary Access Department. “You can tell us your research area and we can let you know if we sponsor it.”
Dr. Knox Millsaps, director of ONR’s Aerospace Science Research Division, said, “Science and technology is a contact sport. It’s important to build relationships with program officers, and events like this workshop are a great way to do that. The main thing is to be patient and persistent.”
Other Naval OAW discussion panels covered topics such as DoN funding opportunities, DoD research opportunities, and student internships and faculty fellowships.
Learn more about the DoN HBCU/MI Program at https://www.onr.navy.mil/Education-Outreach/HBCU-MI-Historically-Black-Colleges.
Warren Duffie Jr. is a contractor for ONR Corporate Strategic Communications.
About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 55 countries, 634 institutions of higher learning and nonprofit institutions, and more than 960 industry partners. ONR, through its commands, including headquarters, ONR Global and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., employs more than 3,800 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel.