The U.S. Space Force welcomed Clemson University as an official member of its University Partnership Program (UPP) at a Memorandum of Understanding signing event on July 18.
The USSF — the sixth and newest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces — established the UPP to identify, develop and retain a diverse, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)-capable workforce to further its mission to protect U.S. and allied interests in space.
As modern warfare is increasingly fought via satellite control networks, the need for creative workers proficient in the STEM fields is at an all-time high. Through the partnership, the USSF will seek to recruit new members and create educational and leadership development programs for existing Space Force employees.
The research and technology created through the partnership will make an impact far outside the military, said Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson.
Universities are selected based on four criteria: the quality of STEM degree offerings and space-related research laboratories and initiatives; a robust ROTC program; a diverse student population; and degrees and programming designed to support military, veterans and their families in pursing higher education.
Teaming with the USSF comes naturally for Clemson, a school that boasts a rich military heritage dating back to its founding as an all-male military college in 1889. Clemson alumni have fought, and in 497 cases given the ultimate sacrifice, in every war since then. Its ROTC program has produced more than 10,000 officers, including Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, a 1984 Clemson alumnus, and two Air Force generals assigned to Space Force — Maj. Gen. Leah G. Lauderback, ‘93 and Maj. Gen. Donna Shipton, ‘91.
Signing the MOU is the first step in a journey designed to enhance the futures of both entities. The USSF and Clemson will immediately begin working to meet the program’s four main goals:
- Establish opportunities for world-class research, advanced academic degrees, and workforce and leadership development for USSF Guardians.
- Identify and pursue research areas of mutual interest with member universities, individually and collectively.
- Establish scholarship, internship and mentorship opportunities for university students and ROTC cadets.
- Recruit and develop diverse officer, enlisted and civilian Guardians with a particular focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics
Clemson is the 13th university to join the UPP. The others are:
- The University of North Dakota
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- The University of Texas at Austin/System
- The University of Texas at El Paso
- Howard University
- North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
- Purdue University
- The University of Colorado Boulder/System
- The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
- Arizona State University
- The University of Southern California