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MU partners with national defense center on national security projects

New partnership will secure internships, jobs for students and contribute to defense research

July 19th, 2018

Story Contact: Jeff Sossamon, 573-882-3346,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri administrators have signed an education partnership agreement with the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division of Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in China Lake, California, which will position Mizzou faculty, researchers and students to partner on advanced national security development efforts. The partnership, including various interdisciplinary researchers from the MU College of Arts and Science and the MU College of Engineering, will foster the exchange of ideas, research and equipment, as well as provide student internships and career development opportunities.

“Solving future global challenges requires broader thinking and far-reaching approaches, and our researchers in the College of Engineering, who already are widely funded through the Department of Defense, are up for the task,” said Elizabeth Loboa, dean of the College of Engineering. “For students, NAVAIR offers a wide array of internship and post-doctoral opportunities that could lead to increased job opportunities once they hit the market.”

NAVAIR’s mission is to provide full “life-cycle” support of naval aviation aircraft, weapons and systems operated by the U.S. Navy and Marines. This support includes research, design, development and systems engineering; acquisition; test and evaluation; training facilities and equipment; repair and modification; and in-service engineering and logistics support.

As part of the agreement, MU faculty will use the agreement to exchange information and cutting-edge research enhancements in the area of engineering, including geospatial analysis, development of drones and other equipment, and advanced materials. Physicists and chemists in the College of Arts and Science will lend their expertise in organic semiconductors, enhancements that increase battery life, and thermoelectric materials. Jointly developed technologies will be freely shared among MU and NAVAIR researchers and students.

“Students working with NAVAIR will be able to leverage the organization’s support in seeking competitive fellowships, including Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarships through the Department of Defense,” said Pat Okker, dean of the MU College of Arts and Science. “While our students and faculty certainly will visit China Lake, NAVAIR also is interested in sending their master’s students to Mizzou for doctoral training.”

The agreement is the latest example of Mizzou’s work with the U.S. military to create research that supports the nation’s defense efforts while training students to step into leadership positions at military organizations.

“A strong educational foundation leads to a skilled workforce while helping fuel innovations that benefit society,” MU Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright said. “Mizzou is proud to enhance our long-standing relationship with the U.S. Department of Defense through the signing of this agreement. Mizzou’s strong ties to industry and defense partners ensure that our students engage in vital, cutting-edge research and educational enrichment.”

The partnership kicked off earlier this summer with a visit to NAVAIR by Hani Salim, associate dean for academic programs in the MU College of Engineering, and J. Chris Pires, associate dean of research for the MU College of Arts and Science.

Editor’s Note: For more on the story, please see: MU partners with national defense center on national security projects