On the front lines: National security, defense needs being addressed through military, university partnership
Purdue University is among the nation’s top providers of graduate training programs for military officers. At the helm is the Purdue Military Research Initiative (PMRI), founded in 2014, which provides in-resident programs at no cost for active duty officers who return to active duty after finishing their degrees.
“This program really is a win-win opportunity for the military, our officer corps, Purdue and the nation,” said Eric Dietz, director of PMRI and a professor of computer and information technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. “Excellence in education is a cornerstone of meeting our national security and defense needs.”
Since 2014, more than 80 officers from all branches of the military have graduated from the Purdue program, which allows the active duty officers to complete master’s degrees in less than two years and PhDs in less than three years. The program focuses on science and technology, but some of the graduates have finished advanced degrees in liberal arts programs.
The Purdue Military Research Institute works with officers to identify a faculty advisor in their area of study who is either doing Department of Defense research currently, is expecting to conduct the research in the future or is conducting research in areas such as hypersonics, cybersecurity or energy security that have applications for defense.
“One of the best aspects about the Purdue program is that we are trying to make sure the advanced degree training has only positive impact in the military careers of these officers,” said Dietz, who previously served as the founding executive director of Indiana’s Department of Homeland Security. “We do that by closely aligning their military experience with research needs of the defense community and Purdue.”
Dietz said the program also has the potential to collaborate with major manufacturers who have a presence in West Lafayette, including General Electric, Rolls-Royce, Boeing and Saab, to provide research and hands-on experiences.