The Thinker at sunset
A 1903 cast of The Thinker by Auguste Rodin has stood watch over the University of Louisville in front of its main administration building, Grawemeyer Hall, for more than 70 years and is a primary landmark of the campus.

The University of Louisville will partner with the U.S. Department of Defense on research and education to strengthen the country’s cyber defenses and national security strategy as part of two new academic networks.

The networks were created by the DoD’s Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) to further military research and build a talent pipeline through education. UofL was the only school selected from Kentucky for both networks and one of only a handful to hold the competitive Carnegie Research-1 classification.

“UofL is honored to have been selected for these academic networks,” said UofL Interim President Lori Gonzalez. “Through these new memberships, we will work hand-in-hand with the DoD to redefine student success through technology-driven curriculum, leverage our strength as a research powerhouse to advance defense innovation and provide the human and other resources necessary to defend and advance cybersecurity in the national interest.”

As one of 84 colleges and universities in the USCYBERCOM Academic Engagement Network, UofL will help further four main thrusts: applied cyber research, applied analytics, strategic issues and building a future workforce. UofL has significant strength in cybersecurity, including via its innovative Digital Transformation Center, focused certifications and a $6.3 million research and curriculum partnership with the National Security Agency.

As one of 60 colleges and universities in USSTRATCOM’s Academic Alliance, UofL will help further research and analysis of deterrence, assurance and associate strategic-level national security themes in a rapidly changing, multi-domain global threat environment.

“This research addresses some of the grand challenges of our time and could have a huge impact on our world,” said Kevin Gardner, UofL’s executive vice president for research and innovation. “UofL is proud to partner with the DoD, leveraging our research strengths to further defense innovation and engineer a future made possible by cutting-edge technology and ideas.”

The UofL McConnell Center will coordinate students and researchers seeking to engage with the USSTRATCOM network through internships and opportunities to present work through DoD’s annual conferences and publications. The McConnell Center also will work with USSTRATCOM to develop on-campus programming featuring top national security thinkers and war gaming opportunities for students and soldiers.

“Our goal at the McConnell Center is to identify, recruit and nurture the next generation of great civic and military leaders,” said Director Gary Gregg. “The future of Kentucky, and our nation, depends on a strong pipeline of talented, motivated leaders, and we’re proud to partner with the DoD to ensure that pipeline is full.”

This work builds on UofL’s existing work with DoD, including via a recent partnership with the department’s National Security Innovation Network. NSIN is focused on solving national security problems by connecting defense, academic and entrepreneurial innovators in artificial intelligence, bioengineering, autonomous systems and cybersecurity. The agreement also provides students access to DoD internships and employment opportunities.

“UofL has a deep pool of brilliant innovators and students who can help solve these military challenges,” said Will Fortune, who leads the NSIN program at UofL. “Participating in these two new networks is one more way UofL can help these important national security challenges.”