EL PASO, Texas — The University of Texas at El Paso and The University of Texas at Austin have signed agreements with the U. S. Space Force to provide advanced research and workforce development for the newest branch of the U.S. armed services. The University of Texas System signed an umbrella memorandum of understanding with the Space Force as part of the comprehensive agreement.
Space Force Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson joined UTEP President Heather Wilson, UT Austin President Jay Hartzell and Archie Holmes Jr., UT System executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, at the signing.
“At the heart of the Space Force’s University Partnership Program is the need to advance our science and technology to build the next generation of space capabilities coupled with the need to develop the workforce of the future,” Thompson said. “With a long history of leading aerospace research across the Paso del Norte region and beyond, we’re confident we can find such talent here at UTEP, at UT Austin and across the UT System.”
“I am proud of the aerospace leadership at UTEP and UT Austin and look forward to seeing the resources and talent of UT institutions applied to the most challenging problems the Space Force is solving,” Holmes said.
The challenges facing the Space Force in protecting unfettered access to space require a workforce with a deep understanding of the domain, people who also possess the creativity, critical thinking and collaborative ability to solve problems, Thompson said. The University Partnership Program (UPP) is one way the Space Force is building that future workforce.
“The University of Texas at El Paso has been engaged in aerospace research for decades. We are pleased to be able to support the Space Force as they develop the capabilities to protect America’s vital national interests in space,” Wilson said. “This agreement further establishes the greater El Paso region as a leader in space flight and aerospace research.”
“The University of Texas at Austin is proud of its work with the Department of Defense over many years to help achieve strategic U.S. objectives in space,” Hartzell said. “We look forward to expanding upon our work with the Space Force, charting bold new areas of research and helping educate leaders for the aerospace workforce of the future.”
UTEP and UT Austin are two of 11 universities selected to join the Space Force University Partnership Program in fiscal year 2021. The institutions were selected based on four criteria: the quality of STEM degree offerings and space-related research laboratories and initiatives; a robust ROTC program; a diverse student population; and degrees and programming designed to support military veterans and their families in pursuing higher education.
The main goals of the University Partnership Program agreements are to:
- Establish opportunities for world-class research, advanced academic degrees, and workforce and leadership development for USSF Guardians.
- Identify and pursue research areas of mutual interest with member universities, individually and collectively.
- Establish scholarship, internship and mentorship opportunities for university students and ROTC cadets.
- Recruit and develop diverse officer, enlisted and civilian Guardians with a particular focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.