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AAMU Receives DoD Award

Paul Ruffin
October 16, 2020

University Awarded $3M over Three-Year Period

Alabama A&M University (AAMU) has been awarded a new grant totaling $2.96 million over three years from the DoD NDEP (National Defense Education Program) under its Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) education, outreach and workforce initiative programs.

According to the DoD announcement, “the goal of this DoD effort is to establish programs to better position the current and next-generation STEM workforce, which is critical to the Department and our Nation’s security.”  The DoD NDEP program awarded a total of $31 million over a three-year period to fund STEM education, outreach, and workforce initiatives for students and educators from early childhood through postsecondary.

The AAMU response was one of only 12 selected for funding from a competitive national pool of 182 submissions. AAMU-RISE personnel developed the winning proposal, entitled “A 3-Step Approach Providing a Pipeline of Skilled Minority STEM Professionals for the DoD Future Workforce,” under the guidance of the project principal investigator (PI), Dr. Paul Ruffin, the chief scientist of AAMU-RISE and an adjunct professor in AAMU’s physics program.

The AAMU initiative aligns with the goals of the DoD to increase awareness of DoD science and technology priority areas to prepare students for technical careers in national security and defense. Here, the primary public benefit of this effort is to broaden DoD exposure and employability of participants with secondary benefits to enhance the retention and knowledge base of minority STEM students attending AAMU and its sister MSI institutions, University of Houston-Victoria (UHV) and Navajo Technical University (NTU). This aim will be met at each of these locations and surrounding areas by supplementing the traditional STEM classroom environment with multi-step year-round programs.

These programs will:  1) introduce the students to a) the necessary soft skillsets necessary to succeed in the demanding DoD environment, and b) DoD science and technology modernization priority areas; 2) give qualified students in depth exposure to one or more topics within the DoD priority areas through faculty mentoring on a DoD-relevant project; and 3) matching exceptional student candidates to co-op and internship opportunities within DoD and industry facilities that require real deliverables and workplace accountability.

The multi-university team--consisting of Alabama A&M University (HBCU); the University of Houston – Victoria, a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) with PI, Dr. Hardik A. Gohel; and Navajo Technical University, a Tribal College with PI, Dr. Peter Romine--will form a pipeline to augment number and quality of eligible minority STEM students participating in defense-related internships and career opportunities in the greater Huntsville, Ala., area and beyond.

The winning AAMU team consists of Dr. Paul Ruffin, PI; Dr. Andrew Scott, co-PI and interim director of AAMU-RISE and professor in AAMU's electrical engineering program; Ms. Yvette Clayton, director of AAMU Career Development Services, co-PI; and the program manager, Dr. Jonathan Lassiter, AAMU-RISE research associate. A number of AAMU STEM faculty will also make significant contributions to the project.

Letters of support were provided by Army Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, Army US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation and Missile Center, Cohesion Force, Huntsville Ala., Lockheed Martin, NTA, Tec-Masters.

The project team is currently seeking local Huntsville and regional government and industry partners to help accomplish project goals, by mentoring STEM student teams and hosting interns in the DoD technology priority areas.

Please contact Dr. Jonathan Lassiter,, for more information about how to become involved.

Caption:  Dr. Paul Ruffin, Principal Investigator