18th Airborne Corps signs tech partnership with universities

Agreements were signed between Vanderbilt University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Duke University, Syracuse University, Middle Tennessee State University, the University of North Carolina System and the 18th Airborne Corps, according to the corps. (William Yeung Via Flickr)

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One of the Army’s most elite units inked agreements with several universities to collaborate on education and research as a part of its strategy to become the first “AI-ready corps.”

The 18th Airborne Corps will collaborate with Vanderbilt University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Duke University, Syracuse University, Middle Tennessee State University and the University of North Carolina System. The agreements allow students to work on Army projects and for soldiers to teach courses on campuses. They are intended to attract more STEM students to working on military technology problems.

“This is all about people,” Col. Molly Solsbury, the corp’s chief data officer, said in a statement. “There are a lot of opportunities to create new mathematical formulas and technologies, but we are focused on the human component to build a foundation for a culture of innovation.”

Solsbury is also the lead for the corps modernization program, dubbed Project Ridgway. The agreement stemmed from Ridgway’s four lines of effort: create cultural change, upskill tech literacy, use data as an asset and building an AI-infrastructure.

The 18th Airborne Corps — dubbed the nation’s “contingency force,” since it must be ready to deploy globally with 18 hours’ notice — launched Project Ridgway last year as a means to modernize its processes and integrate AI and emerging tech into its operations. The project relies on collaboration with industry and academia to increasing the data skills of its soldiers and to build new technologies for the battlefield.

The agreement signed with Georgia Tech sets up a path for students to earn school credits by working on projects run by the corps, according to the agreement. Soldiers could also have an opportunity to teach courses or assist in course design at Georgia tech.

Each agreement is tailored to meet the needs of the corps and use what each university can provide, Col. Joe Buccino, spokesman for the corps, told FedScoop.

The universities did not return a request for comment before publication.

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18th Airborne Corps, Department of Defense (DOD), Project Ridgway, public-private partnership
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