Howard University is expanding in a new way. The university recently received a $90 million contract for military research and will be the first of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities to partner with the Pentagon.
According to 7News, Howard University president Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick said, “It (the award) brings to culmination our mission and the work we have been doing to get here as well.”
This also makes Howard the first HBCU to have a university-affiliated research center funded by the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense. The $90 million contract is the largest research contract to be signed by an HBCU in academic history, according to Bruce Jones, HU’s vice president of research.
“Howard has always made history, and it’s always been dedicated to scientific discovery and innovation,” said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III, at the Air Force research center at Howard’s campus.
The announcement was made at the Founder’s Library among students, faculty, staff, members of Congress and the Air Force and Department of Defense staff. U.S. Secretary of Defense and U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall also was present.
Jones described the acquisition of the UARC as “a crowning achievement for Howard University, and the acquisition of research one status will be a crowning achievement,” said Jones. “What’s key, given this movement, is getting to research one status, but also how to stay in that space.”
According to the National Science Foundation, Howard University delivers more Black graduates who later earn science and engineering doctoral degrees than any other university. The award and the partnership are meant to help bridge this STEM-based gap and support the military’s international defense through tactical autonomy and human-machine team research.
“We need your ideas. We need your creativity, and we need to draw on the skills of all of our people,” said Austin, referring to Howard students.
The Pentagon has 14 university-affiliate research centers that work with the Department of Defenae in technical and military research. Howard also will receive security and building upgrades to accommodate the military program’s integration. The work is expected to be completed by Jan. 31, 2028.
“I’ve heard my friends cheering in their rooms when they heard about this program,” Howard University ROTC member Bria White told 7News. “So yeah, we’re all excited to be a part of this program. 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.”