U.S. Space Force, University of Colorado announce partnership

Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson speaks to attendees at an event Aug. 20, 2021, 2021 at the Ent Center for the Arts Garden at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado. During the event, Thompson and University of Colorado President Todd Saliman signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the Space Force’s University Partnership Program. (Photo courtesy UCCS)

The U.S. Space Force expanded its University Partnership Program at the University of Colorado during a Memorandum of Understanding signing event Aug. 20.

Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson joined University of Colorado President Todd Saliman on the University of Colorado Colorado Springs campus to sign the MOU.

“The state of Colorado and community of Colorado Springs have long been key members and supporters of the national security space enterprise, so it’s fitting for the Space Force to establish a formal partnership between the University of Colorado and the Space Force,” Thompson said. 

Signing an MOU is only the first step in defining the partnership. Next, the Space Force will work with CU and each university that follows to outline specific implementation milestones to meet the program’s four main goals.

1.     Establish opportunities for world-class research, advanced academic degrees, and workforce and leadership development for USSF Guardians

2.     Identify and pursue research areas of mutual interest with member universities, individually and collectively

3.     Establish scholarship, internship and mentorship opportunities for university students and ROTC cadets

4.     Recruit and develop diverse officer, enlisted, and civilian Guardians with a particular focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

“We’re thrilled the U.S. Space Force selected the University of Colorado for its University Partnership Program,” said Saliman. “Given Colorado’s aerospace and defense economy — the largest per capita in the nation — and CU’s broad array of related workforce and research capabilities, we’re excited to contribute to Space Force’s workforce and help advance our nation’s aerospace and national security capabilities.”

Thompson also highlighted the focus on ROTC scholarships and the hope to attract talent from geographic or cultural communities underrepresented in military service.

“The partnership with CU will not only advance space science and technology through research efforts, but it will also provide a path to higher education and workforce development,” Thompson said. “In order to protect the space capabilities America and the world rely on every day, we need the brightest minds working together in high-performing teams to drive innovative solutions.”

The CU system is the second university in the UPP, joining University of North Dakota that signed an MOU Aug. 9. The nine additional universities on track to join the partnership in fiscal year ’21 are:

  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Howard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
  • Purdue University
  • University of Texas System (beginning with Austin and El Paso)
  • University of Southern California 

Universities were 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.

Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson and University of Colorado President Todd Saliman sign a Memorandum of Understanding Aug. 20, 2021 at the Ent Center for the Arts Garden at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo courtesy UCCS)