To hire the workforce of tomorrow, the Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center must engage them today.

The center’s Executive Director Juanita Christensen and Athens State University President Philip Way signed an educational partnership agreement Thursday, formalizing a relationship between the federal agency and university that will both encourage and enhance educational and research opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“Through education outreach, AvMC not only strengthens the student’s understanding of science and technology, but exposes them to the vast career opportunities at AvMC to influence their future career decisions in business opportunities,” said Cindy Wallace, deputy chief for the center’s research and technology applications office.

The benefits of an EPA are two-fold: it provides students access to equipment and resources an academic institution might not have readily available and allows for them to work on Army research and, in some cases, be given academic credit for it. Students will be able to tour center facilities and personnel will speak about their career fields on campus.

The scope of the Athens State University EPA will largely be business-related and include topics such as logistics, cybersecurity, simulations, acquisition, technology assessments, applications of technologies, marketing technologies and developing training materials.

“Athens State is proud to partner with local organizations to provide experiential learning opportunities to students and better prepare them for real-world careers upon graduation,” Kim LaFevor, dean of the Athens State University College of Business, said. “Our goal is to shape the future of this area through preparing leaders in business, education and science, and we’re appreciative of this partnership to help us in our mission.”

Wallace noted the sharp decline in the number of students pursuing STEM degrees in the U.S., which presents a challenge when it comes to recruiting employees to fulfill the Army’s mission critical efforts that require knowledge and skill sets in those fields. The center engages in several EPAs with schools and universities to spark an interest.

“The educational partnership agreement will benefit the students by enhancing their skills in all levels within science, technology and mathematics,” Wallace said. “As a result of closer interaction with research projects based upon practical, real-world situations, this effort gives the students experiential relevance to academic programs. The main goal of an EPA is to encourage and enhance the study of the scientific disciplines at all levels of education. The students will be better prepared to enter into the ever-changing workforce.”

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