The Department of Defense (DoD) recently announced the award of the Defense Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Consortium (DSEC) cooperative agreement. The cooperative agreement was awarded to Research Triangle Institute (RTI), who will receive up to $15 million a year over the course of five years.
The goal of the DSEC is to identify and support stronger programs for conducting Kindergarten – 12 and undergraduate STEM education and outreach efforts. It will provide the DoD with far-reaching sustainable and scalable programs through a consortium of organizations that have similar STEM goals. RTI will identify strategies to meet the vision and goals of the DoD STEM Strategic Plan, including: (1) building a highly-qualified STEM workforce in mission critical areas; (2) enhancing the preparation of dependents of our Armed Forces for careers in STEM; (3) providing education, outreach programs, and activities that stimulate an interest in STEM; and (4) promoting increased participation of underserved groups.
“STEM is a national priority. In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have given rise to major economic and political shifts across the globe,” said Dr. Milan Nikolich, Director of Defense Research and Engineering for Research and Technology. “The department’s unique STEM programs align with the newly released five year Federal STEM Strategy entitled, Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education by exposing students of all ages to ground-breaking, forward-looking research and development that supports the warfighter and provides science, technology, and engineering expertise to develop technologies that benefit the U.S. and directly contribute to protecting national security.”
DSEC members and their STEM education and outreach efforts will include programs such as For Inspiration and Recognition Science and Technology, National Math and Science Initiative, MATHCOUNTS, USA Science and Engineering Festival, and more. These programs will help the department continue to attract, inspire, and develop exceptional STEM talent across the education continuum and advance the current DoD STEM workforce to meet current and future defense technological challenges.
The DSEC will allow the department to directly support improving permeability and recruitment through strategically investing in students of all ages in STEM education and outreach activities, giving them more exposure to DoD research and career opportunities. These partnerships will enable the DoD to encourage underserved, underrepresented, and military dependent students to pursue STEM careers and consider defense laboratories as a place of employment. Additionally, the DSEC will provide unique hands-on learning experiences where students can work side-by-side with the nation’s best scientists and engineers helping to create cutting-edge research and development. They will learn to transform new ideas into innovative solutions, helping the nation thrive by solving the complex problems of today’s world and its future.