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University Relations seeks to bolster AFRL partnerships, recruiting

  • Published
  • By Derek Hardin
  • Air Force Research Laboratory
Employment recruiting efforts at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) are expanding via its University Relations program.

The program is part of a multi-faceted AFRL effort to seek out and attract the best and brightest scientists and engineers (S&Es) and carry out its mission of providing Airmen with the advanced technologies needed to fly, fight and win.

The University Relations program also seeks to create ties with major U.S. universities to develop a pipeline of young science and engineering students and recent graduates eager to become the next generation of researchers and developers for AFRL.

AFRL launched its program in June 2014, selecting Dr. José Camberos to lead and manage it. Camberos' vision for the program is simple, yet focused and vital to AFRL's S&E recruitment needs.

In a nutshell, University Relations seeks to initiate, build, and strengthen research-based collaboration with universities, with the goal of attracting and recruiting young talented S&Es. Its keystone is to leverage existing and future AFRL grants and contracted partnerships with Universities and through internship, fellowship, and scholarship programs.

"The University Relations program was created to address the need for AFRL to have a strong sustainable presence and visibility at college campuses across the nation," Camberos said. "It will help AFRL to leverage its current status and address the need for S&E talent as each generation approaches retirement. By cultivating strong relationships with academia, we 'mine' human capital while also providing direction, relevance, and funding for research projects of interest for the nation's defense."

Camberos, along with the support of AFRL senior leadership and personnel directorate staff, works closely with senior campus ambassadors at numerous universities with academic programs of study that closely align with the science and engineering needs of AFRL. Emphasizing strong research-based collaboration, AFRL can leverage its world-class reputation while establishing a sustainable university presence.

"This program is a vital part of our effort to elevate understanding about AFRL and the incredibly exciting and important work we do for the nation," said Dr. Morley Stone, the AFRL's chief technology officer. "As the Air Force's laboratory, we also want to keep our finger on the pulse of research going on in universities around the world."

AFRL has many attractive career features to those seeking employment, which can include: health care, vacation leave, access to base facilities, and challenging work which carries with it a strong patriotic sense of duty and service. Exceptional work is also regularly recognized and rewarded by AFRL leadership. The University Relations program's mission is to make young scientists and engineers aware of all these benefits that a career at AFRL has to offer them.

In the months since the program's initiation, Camberos and his team have been busy visiting campuses nationwide to expand partnerships with universities. He reports that the program has received strong, positive receptions during their visits, with many universities expressing interest in cooperating with AFRL and visiting its world-class facilities. Purdue University and the University of Arizona, in particular, have responded favorably to the University Relations program.

The AFRL ambassador to Purdue University, Doug Ebersole, the director of the laboratory's Aerospace Systems Directorate, has taken on a passionate role and is now serving on the board of advisors to Purdue's School of Engineering, while senior personnel at the University of Arizona have requested exchange visits to AFRL at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio and Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

"There's a lot of competition for S&E graduates," Stone said. "Our hope is, by exposing student talent to the amazing array of cutting-edge Air Force research interests, we'll really generate enthusiasm in learning more about AFRL career opportunities. By working with the laboratory, they will see how we value innovation, diversity, smart risk taking and the pursuit of excellence."

The University Relations program's strategy is to continue to attract talent and enhance AFRL's name recognition and presence at top-notch science and engineering universities across the U.S. Camberos and his team are slated to visit many more universities in the upcoming months and continue coordinating research collaboration, internships, and scholarships.

Camberos added it is AFRL’s people who research and develop the advanced technologies that keep our nation safe and the U.S. Air Force the greatest air force in the world.