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BYU and Air Force enter new educational partnership to foster ongoing collaboration

Agreement enables students and faculty to do defense lab research

Four U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds perform June 25, 2022, at Hill Air Force Base for the Warriors Over the Wasatch Air and Space show.
Four U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds at Hill Air Force Base during a summer air show.

BYU and the U.S. Air Force have entered into a five-year agreement that formally authorizes faculty and students to work side by side with Hill Air Force Base personnel on Department of Defense research.

This week, representatives from BYU and Hill Air Force Base formalized the ongoing Educational Partnership Agreement with a ceremonial signing on BYU’s campus. The compact allows the Air Force to make lab personnel and state-of-the-art equipment available to BYU students, involve those students and faculty in defense lab research, and provide mentoring opportunities with Air Force experts.

“Like the Air Force, BYU is a very mission-oriented and outcomes-oriented type of organization, and the biggest outcome for us is our students,” said Larry Howell, BYU associate academic vice president. “Having partners like Hill Air Force Base that give our students practical experiences that helps them understand the applications of what they learn in the classroom. It provides them a real-world connection and invaluable opportunities to solve problems and innovate.”

Two men sit at a table signing an agreement.
Thomas Lockhart (left) and Larry Howell sign the educational partnership agreement Tuesday.

In many ways, the agreement is a formalization of an ongoing partnership long in place. Over the years, BYU’s College of Engineering and the U.S. Air Force have collaborated on more than 20 engineering capstone projects. Currently there are 10 active research projects ongoing at BYU that are sponsored by divisions within the Air Force.

Under the partnership, BYU faculty and students will be able to apply for research funding to pursue projects of mutual interest to BYU and the Air Force. The agreement will also foster the development of a program wherein BYU students can earn academic credit for their work on defense lab research projects.

“This effort to link education with the Department of Defense and our Air Force is really all about national security,” said Thomas Lockhart, Director of Engineering and Technical Management for the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center. “We must have the support of the local community ecosystem to do what we do. This signing today is critical for our nation, for the Department of Defense, and for the Air Force and obviously for Hill Air Force Base.”

Added Col. Michael Warner: "The Air Force needs new materials, we need new systems, and we need smart people to fill not only the personnel needs at Hill Air Force Base, but also at laboratories throughout the Air Force. An agreement like this makes it easier for us to collaborate on senior capstone projects, to engage with students on campus, and for BYU faculty and students to visit Hill Air Force Base."

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