The DoD Awards $47 Million in Grants Through the NDEP

The Department of Defense (DoD), through the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), is pleased to announce more than $47 million to 15 awardees under the National Defense Education Program (NDEP) in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Biotechnology, and Enhanced Civics Education.

Awardees, consisting of a local education agency, institutions of higher education, and non-profits, are focused on activities related to STEM, including specific efforts geared toward biotechnology, a DoD modernization priority area. These organizations will receive a total of $43 million over three- or four-year periods, depending on the award. The goals for these awards are to (1) engage students and educators through STEM education, outreach, and workforce initiatives from early childhood through postsecondary education and (2) expand biotechnology outreach and workforce development activities.

“The Department of Defense is not only developing emerging technologies but also investing in the STEM workforce pipeline, which is critical to the Department and our Nation’s security,” said Ms. Heidi Shyu, the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. “These recognized awardees are helping to widen the pipeline of STEM talent to ensure that the talent is diverse, providing opportunities for students of all ages and educators of all grade levels, including those in underserved and underrepresented communities, military-connected students, and veterans. These programs will implement innovative approaches to STEM education and outreach while providing awareness of the Department’s STEM career pathways.”

Activities will support the DoD STEM Strategic Plan, Fiscal Year 2021–2025, and align to the 2018 Federal STEM Strategic Plan. Several of these efforts will include participation with the Department’s laboratories and military installations from across the country.

In addition, section 234 of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act required OUSD(R&E) to implement a pilot program on enhanced civics education in collaboration with the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) and/or Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). Enhanced Civics Education awardees will receive $4 million over two years to prepare the next generation to better understand the U.S. Government and their role as citizens in civic engagement.

The 15 awardees are listed by category as follows:

STEM Education, Outreach, and Workforce Development

  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas: The primary goal of “Project Learning, Exploration, and Application for Prospective Engineering Students” (LEAPES) is to engage students in awareness, exploration, and preparation activities related to careers in aerospace engineering, AI, and computer science, as well as to contribute to long-term student retention in these degree programs.
  • Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts: “LabXchange,” a data-driven curricula developed at Harvard University, will apply data science to real-world challenges in biotechnology and sustainability while engaging a wide range of students with diverse interests and backgrounds in data science.
  • Malcolm X College, Chicago, Illinois: “Advancing Opportunities for Women in STEM” (AOWS) seeks to address the shortfall of African American, Black, Hispanic, and Latina women in STEM by  creating a robust pipeline of women STEM leaders with the passion, creativity, and technical skills to serve their country and advance knowledge and innovation in their fields.
  • Mobile County Public School System, Mobile, Alabama: The Mobile County Public School System will scale up its JROTC STEM Leadership Academy to 14 JROTC programs across the Nation, thereby expanding the JROTC STEM Leadership Academy as a hybrid Junior Cadet Leadership Challenge impacting over 5,000 cadets, 350 cadre, and 275 STEM instructors. STEM activities will focus on maritime, advanced manufacturing, and aviation.
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma: The new DISCOVERY center, in the heart of the Oklahoma City Innovation District, will scale up its first to fifth grade STEM summer and afterschool programs and sixth to eighth grade teacher training focused on transdisciplinary teaching and learning at three school districts adjacent to Tinker Air Force Base, the state’s largest military base. These programs and training will prepare military-connected and underrepresented students for DoD STEM career pathways.
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana: The goal of this project is to create a broad, flourishing community of students, engineers, and scientists who collaborate in open-source learning activities on quantum technology concepts by 1) developing learning modules; 2) partnering with leading quantum companies; and 3) establishing cross-disciplinary professional degrees to help close the gap between quantum technology and education.
  • Space Foundation, Colorado Springs, Colorado: TheInnovative Space, STEM, and Entrepreneurship Inspired Learning: Empowering an Agile STEM Talent Pool” (SSEL) project marries entrepreneurship and STEM to cultivate the skills needed by students and educators in local education districts that includes students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and where 12.5 percent of the students are military-connected thereby expanding equity and access to underserved communities.
  • University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut: The University of Connecticut, will create the Navy STEM Coalition to establish a long-term STEM pipeline program in Southeast New England. The program will engage STEM talent K-12 through graduate school in innovative naval-focused activities and hands-on projects through participation from the regional Navy community to provide early and frequent interaction and, ultimately, retention of students from this community.
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina: “Our Place in Space!” (OPIS!) is an undergraduate laboratory/observing curriculum designed to accompany survey-level astronomy courses.
  • University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: The BRIDGE program will expand access to graduate education that is focused on artificial intelligence, autonomy, and robotics to broaden the pool of advanced degree candidates from historically underrepresented groups in STEM fields, including student veterans and children of veterans.

Biotechnology Outreach and Workforce Development

  • Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona: Implementation of a zero-cost K-12 pipeline will immediately engage 10 Arizona secondary schools (with 8 Title I programs), 20 teachers, and nearly 300 students in inquiry-based biotechnology education every year.
  • Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts: “STEM Pathways” will develop a high school education and outreach program using Boston-area universities, companies, and non-profit organizations in a collection of yearly activities, including networking events, short courses, laboratory “rotations,” industrial internships, hackathons, and global science competitions.
  • University of California–Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California: “SciTrekBiotech” engages teams of K-12 students in structured but self-driven explorations of bio-science/technology questions, using multi-tiered mentoring involving peers, K-12 teachers, and university students and faculty, while simultaneously targeting distinct groups in the STEM pipeline, from K-12 students, to teachers and teachers in training, to university students.

Enhanced Civics Education

  • Education Development Center, Waltham, Massachusetts: “Supporting Readiness through Vital Civic Empowerment” (SRVCE) represents a unique effort to engage students from military-connected schools in robust civic inquiry.
  • iCivics, Cambridge, Massachusetts: “Civics, Service, and Leadership” (CSL) will bring civics to life while teaching students how the U.S. Government works. CSL will use a new innovative program of educational video games and classroom resources designed for DoDEA and JROTC students.

To read the selected awardees’ abstracts and learn about other DoD STEM partners, visit:

For more information about the Department’s comprehensive Pre-K–20 STEM education and workforce development efforts, visit: and be sure to follow @DoDSTEM on major social media platforms.

About OUSD(R&E)

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) is responsible for research, development, and prototyping activities across DoD. OUSD(R&E) fosters military technological dominance to ensure the unrivaled superiority of the American joint force. Learn more at: or follow us on Twitter: @DoDCTO.

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