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DAF, Clemson conducting research for Undergraduate Space Training educational partnership

  • Published
  • By Dan Hawkins
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. – Deliberate development of Airmen and Guardians to ensure they have the attributes required to compete, deter and win in a contested environment is critical to U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles. Q. Brown Jr’s Accelerate Change or Lose strategy.

To that end, a team from Second Air Force has been working with Clemson University in a mutually beneficial educational partnership agreement since July of 2020 as part of an effort to assist the United States Space Force with the deliberate development, education and training of space professionals.

“This partnership allows us to understand more about the Department of the Air Force’s human capital development,” said Dr. Brian Davis, 2nd AF’s chief training officer and the partnership’s outgoing facilitator. “This includes improved recruiting, selection, education and training of joint space operators. The long-term benefits include a better understanding of the relationship between undergraduate education, performance in technical training and ultimately, success in the career field.”

As part of the partnership, the Air Force exchanged graduate score information with Clemson on students completing Officer Undergraduate Space Training (OUST) course, while the Air Force Personnel Center provides other data, such as demographics, major, etc., for the research project.

“Our objective since entering the EPA has been the research of undergraduate experiences that best develop high-performing space operators, while also learning more about whether or not science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees have the propensity to ensure success in their undergraduate technical training,” Davis said. “Expanding on that, if STEM degrees do ensure success, to what degree can that success be measured?  Can officers without STEM degrees be successful in OUST? Those are the questions we hope to answer.”

One of the potential benefits of learning more about STEM degree efficacy and success for the DAF is the potential increase in the recruiting pool for a field that currently mandates a STEM degree for entry, Davis said.

“These types of partnerships are invaluable to the military,” Davis said. “Enhanced collaboration and relationships with civilian educational institutions allow both of us to take the lessons learned and apply findings from the Air Force to a broader context.”

In the case of this partnerships, Clemson researchers could possibly question the efficacy of STEM requirements on success if other attributes can point to success in a STEM field, Davis said.

For now, the partnership has been extended, with the U.S. Space Force serving as lead now that the OUST course has transferred to the USSF.

Education Partnership Agreements are offered through the Air Force Technology Transfer and Transition (AFT3) Program Office, enabling a broad spectrum of productive interactions with educational institutions. A comprehensive suite of T3 mechanisms for partnering with industry and academia are offered through the office. To find out how you can partner with AFT3 Program, please visit