University of Utah Launches Educational Partnership with U.S. Air Force

Brig. Gen. Richard Gibbs.

The University of Utah College of Engineering and the United States Air Force are proud to announce a new education partnership that will create valuable learning opportunities for students and research projects that can advance technologies from wireless communications and cybersecurity to robotics and composite materials.

A signing ceremony celebrating the agreement was held Friday, Nov. 18 at 10 a.m. in the Catmull Gallery of the Warnock Engineering Building on the University of Utah campus. The university’s Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps honor guard presented colors at the start of the ceremony, and representatives from Hill Air Force Base, the Air Force Materiel Command base located south of Ogden, were in attendance, including Brig. Gen. Richard Gibbs and Director of Engineering and Technical Management Thomas A. Lockhart Jr. Also attending were University of Utah Vice President for Research Erin Rothwell and U College of Engineering Dean Richard B. Brown.

This education partnership allows university faculty and students to work more closely with Air Force researchers on a wide range of topics that could include data analytics, machine learning for materials discovery, prosthetics, nuclear engineering, additive manufacturing and more. Air Force personnel will also work with the U on developing new educational programs and will make laboratory personnel available to teach courses.

Meanwhile, university researchers will get access to otherwise unavailable resources from the Air Force such as state-of-the-art equipment, facilities, and expert knowledge. The agreement also provides opportunities for Air Force personnel to pursue certificates and master’s degrees through online programs offered by the U, such as the Online Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“The U has faculty with expertise in areas that are of great interest to the Air Force. This educational partnership will help our faculty and Air Force researchers become better acquainted, which will lead to more joint research,” said Brown. “We also want their people to be more involved with our students. The partnership will be mutually beneficial.”

“In addition to deepening our relationship with the U. of U. through mentoring, internships, and collaboration on defense laboratory projects, this is a great opportunity for the Air Force to find ways to transform our operations to better and more efficiently sustain our weapons systems and components in support of national defense,” said Gibbs.

Already, many University of Utah faculty have or are now conducting research supported by the U.S. Air Force, such as projects to help clean up space debris orbiting Earth and research on the use of machine learning and multi-scale modeling for aircraft materials.

The agreement, which officially launched this summer, is scheduled to last five years.

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