EGLIN AFB — The FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and researchers and engineers from Eglin Air Force Base recently celebrated the beginning of a new partnership Monday to train undergraduate students in areas critical to the U.S. Air Force, according to a news release from Florida A&M University.

According to the release, the Air Force Research Laboratory at Eglin will fund a $400,000 grant to create the Air Force Research Laboratory Scholars program at the College of Engineering. The program will bring students into the lab environment where they can directly benefit from working with faculty researchers on Air Force-related research.

“This is a great partnership from our standpoint because it provides unique research opportunities for our students and faculty,” Murray Gibson, dean of the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, said in the news release. “We are delighted that AFRL recognizes the value of our unique shared college as a source of highly trained and diverse engineers.”

While the AFRL has supported research at the college in the past, it will now expand research and training opportunities for students at two unique FSU centers that house several engineering faculty members.

The Florida Center for Advanced Aero-Propulsion includes polysonic wind tunnel facilities that are critical to new research for aircraft technology. The High-Performance Materials Institute allows faculty to experiment with high-tech, next-generation materials that could be used in a variety of different ways.

“FAMU-FSU Engineering has a history of high-caliber faculty and students and we are looking forward to the research results from future AFRL Scholars,” Col. Garry Haase, director of the Air Force Research Lab Munitions Directorate, noted in the news release.

The five-year program will provide the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering with funding for four AFRL scholars. College of Engineering Associate Professor Rajan Kumar, along with Gibson and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies Farrukh Alvi, will develop a tailored curriculum for these scholars that focuses on use of the polysonic wind tunnel and other facilities that support the AFRL’s research agenda.

Kumar, who will serve as the point person for the program, said the new agreement will provide students with specialized training that would prepare them for their future professional endeavors. “This program will provide maximum exposure to students across a broad spectrum of educational background,” he said in the release. “Students will conduct relevant and necessary research during an internship that focuses on the critical needs of AFRL Munitions Directorate, particularly in the areas of supersonic and hypersonic flows.”

Kumar, Gibson and Alvi participated in a ceremonial signing of the partnership with Haase and other officials from the Air Force Research Laboratory. Haase and other Air Force officials, along with aides from the offices of U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., also toured the wind tunnel facilities with FSU and FAMU administrators.