University of South Florida


Computers line up on a desk with monitors on the wall above

USF’s success securing defense contracts prompts new partnership to broaden nation’s research expertise

By Tina Meketa, University Communications and Marketing

USF has become the first university in Florida and one of just a handful of universities in the nation to join a new network that connects research institutions with historically black colleges or universities (HBCUs). 

Institute of Applied Engineering signage

The new agreement, facilitated by the Tougaloo College Research and Development Foundation (TCRDF), allows the USF Institute of Applied Engineering (IAE) to partner with HBCUs in their efforts to secure research funding and contracts with the federal government, especially the U.S. Department of Defense.

Since its formation in 2018, the IAE has secured more than $95 million in contract opportunities from the federal government to conduct a range of research, such as the creation of new technologies and processes for U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Central Command, the U.S. Air Force and NASA.

TCRDF logo

“We are incredibly excited to begin this partnership as it brings intellectual capital from across the United States together in the same room to solve the problems of tomorrow,” said Darren Schumacher, president and CEO of the IAE.

More than 30 HBCUs are members of the TCRDF network, which includes Florida A&M University. It was established to help HBCUs navigate the often-complex research and contracting processes and broaden the nation’s expertise in STEM fields. The TCRDF also has an active partnership with the National Sponsored Programs Administrators Alliance, which includes more than 100 HBCU member institutions. 

“TCRDF is fortunate to enter into this agreement with USF and looks forward to working with this exceptionally talent-rich university to expand TCRDF and HBCU capacity in areas where we are unfamiliar and before this agreement did not fully appreciate,” said John Rosenthall, president and CEO of TCRDF. “We look forward to reaching and helping other HBCUs reach new heights in research and contracts that previously appeared beyond our grasp.”

In addition to faculty, USF will assist undergraduate students at HBCUs with securing internships and mentoring opportunities. USF joins Brown University, Purdue University, Mississippi State University, Georgia Tech Research Institute and the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies in signing similar partnership agreements. 

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