Howard University wins $90M military contract, makes history

The school is the first HBCU (Historically Black College and University) to secure such a Pentagon award.

In a major contract win, Howard University has been awarded $90 million for military research.

The school is the first HBCU (Historically Black College and University) to secure a Pentagon contract for research development, officials announced Monday, ABC 7News reports. 

The U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense will fund a university-affiliated research center (UARC) where Howard University will study “tactical autonomy” technology for military systems, according to a release. 

Howard University, which has won a $90 million military university-affiliated research center (UARC) contract, is the first HBCU (Historically Black College and University) to secure such an award. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“The contract will establish a Historically Black Colleges and Universities-led University Affiliated Research Center consortium to execute research focused on tactical autonomy that will aid in the transition of research into practical applications,” the release states. 

HBCUs produce about 30% of all professional STEM workers, according to the ABC 7News report, but receive a small percentage of military research funding. This newly announced UARC center symbolizes the much-needed support for STEM-related programs at these schools. Currently, the Pentagon has 14 UARCs.

Howard will conduct the research at a facility on campus and the work is expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2028. 

“Howard’s new research center will focus on tactical autonomy,” said U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on Monday from Founder’s Library on campus. “That’s central to U.S. security in our changing world. Responsibly used autonomous systems make our military faster, stronger, and smarter.”

Howard University president, Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick said the award “brings to culmination, our mission and the work we have been doing to get here as well,” he told the students and faculty who gathered with local government, members of Congress, the Air Force and Department of Defense staff for Monday’s announcement at the school, according to ABC 7News.

“I think that we just need the world to see that we are more than liberal arts we also stem we breed many architects, engineers, and mathematicians, all types of STEM degrees, and having this program really pushes that forward,” Howard University ROTC member Bria White told ABC 7News.

“I’ve heard my friends cheering in their rooms when they heard about this program,” White said. “So yeah, we’re all excited to be a part of this program.”

Having access to this program would help Howard University students advance their careers and majors in stem fields.

“We need your ideas,” Austin III said during the official on-campus announcement. “We need your creativity and we need to draw on the skills of all of our people.”

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