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15 HBCUs Enter Partnership to Provide Technical Expertise to Federal Agencies: Initiative Is Expected to Increase Diversity in Government Contracting

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama July 10, 2017) Scientists and engineers affiliated with AMIE (Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering) will be collaborating with the Research, Innovation, Science, and Engineering Foundation at Alabama A&M University to submit proposals and compete for research and development opportunities with the federal government for defense, aerospace, cyber security, and other critical areas. The new consortium is expected to increase the participation of black engineers in government technology projects, give leading agency contractors more options for diversity in their partnerships, and generate new revenue streams for Historically Black College and Universities.

The endeavor is led by the AAMU-RISE Foundation, which has extensive experience in developing innovative technology to help government agencies meet their needs.

For example, the AAMU-RISE Foundation currently is partnering with a prominent defense contractor to demonstrate the technical feasibility of autonomous systems that reduce daily tasks of military pilots. The AAMU-RISE Foundation has just completed Phase I of a small business technology project involving additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, for NASA. The AAMU-RISE Foundation team also has been contracted to apply their expertise on the lifecycle of missiles and testing a turbopump bearing system for the Marshall Space Flight Center.

“We have been successful in executing contracts to provide meaningful products and services to the government. These projects increase learning experiences for engineering students and create new revenue streams for the university,” said Chance M. Glenn, Ph.D. Glenn is executive director of the AAMU-RISE Foundation and dean of the College of Engineering, Technology, and Physical Sciences at Alabama A&M University.

“This partnership is unlike other consortia attempts,” said Veronica Nelson, executive director at AMIE. “It is driven by opportunity and mutual benefit. The AMIE/AAMU-RISE Foundation partnership will allow us to collaborate and develop a method to utilize subject matter experts from various universities, as well as the facilities and equipment of a nationwide network of HBCUs. ” All of the 15 universities affiliated with AMIE have ABET-accredited engineering programs.

“Although these schools have faculty scientists who are experts across technology disciplines, contracting with the government represents a new opportunity for some of them. What makes this collaboration unique is that we will actually be training and preparing our partners to work with the government as a contractor,” Glenn said.

According to Glenn, government contracting is a paradigm shift for most HBCUs, which have been more accustomed to applying for grants than competing for contracts. As grant dollars dwindle, Glenn and Nelson believe it is critical for university administrators to recognize the potential of contracting and pursue those opportunities.


“Consider NASA, for example,” said Latonia Jones, a contracting specialist who worked with Glenn to create the Knowledge Sharing Center, which is the web portal that will connect the consortium members, as well as prime contractors and agency program managers. “NASA has a contract budget of $19.5 billion, and it has a goal of awarding 1 percent of that to HBCUs and other minority serving institutions. That means there is roughly $195 million available to HBCU engineering programs. Yet, in the past, according to NASA officials the agency has been unable to award even 10 percent of that amount. And that is just NASA. Other agencies also are looking for contract-ready HBCU partners.”

Jones, Glenn and Nelson said pursuing such contracting opportunities is critical, particularly because many HBCUs are looking for ways to create sustainable revenue streams and the government wants to increase contract diversity. Membership in the Knowledge Sharing Center is open to all HBCUs, federal agencies and government contractors.


ABOUT THE AAMU-RISE FOUNDATION: The AAMU-RISE Foundation is the contracting entity for Alabama A&M University. The foundation is capable of serving as either a prime or subcontractor to manufacture products or provide innovative services that the U.S. government must have. The AAMU- RISE Foundation is proficient in executing government R&D contracts. Areas of expertise include defense, aerospace, cyber security, sustainable energy sources, as well as food production and emerging biotechnologies. In addition to fulfilling the needs of federal agencies, the AAMU-RISE Foundation also is capable of collaborating with industry partners and is ready to team up with other academic institutions.

ABOUT AMIE: AMIE (Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering) is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to expand corporate, government, and academic alliances to implement and support programs to attract, educate, graduate and place underrepresented minority students in engineering careers. The outcome of an initiative by Abbott Laboratories in 1992, AMIE represents a coalition of industry and government agencies, and the ABET-accredited HBCU Schools of Engineering, who see a diversified workforce as a competitive advantage and an essential business strategy.