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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Partnership paves way for UPR Mayagüez to explore new worlds

By The Star Staff

The U.S. Space Force and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (RUM by its Spanish acronym) have signed an agreement making them the 14th member of the service’s University Partnership Program.

The agreement was signed on Sept. 9. The U.S. Space Force is responsible for organizing, training and equipping guardians to conduct global space operations that enhance how joint and coalition forces fight while offering decision-makers military options to achieve national objectives. It is a separate unit of the military.

Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond joined RUM Chancellor Agustin Rullán at the Johnson Center in Houston to finalize the agreement and to learn more about the university’s space initiatives and capabilities. The partnership will leverage the space and technical prowess to enhance and encourage collaboration in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); build solutions for current and future research projects that further national security objectives in the space domain; and grow and develop a qualified, diverse and inclusive workforce.

“The Space Force needs highly educated Guardians with STEM expertise to operate and develop advanced space systems,” Raymond said in a statement. “We need partners like the University of Puerto Rico because space is hard! We need the best minds in the nation to help us solve problems, build solutions, and operate some of the most sophisticated platforms, systems, and networks anywhere on Earth.”

“If we are going to keep our advantage in space and ensure space remains open for science and discovery, we need partners like the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez,” he said.

Among other areas, the university’s College of Engineering researches satellite photography that tracks various earth phenomena, directly supporting the Space Force’s mission.

RUM has graduates who have significantly impacted various STEM career fields – including Orlando Figueroa, the director of Mars exploration at NASA, and William Navas Jr., a former assistant secretary of the Navy.

The University Partnership Program (UPP) seeks to recruit, educate and develop subject matter experts that engage in world-class research and technology developments to secure the nation’s interests and maintain an advantage in space.

The UPP’s four goals are to establish opportunities for world-class research, advanced academic degrees, and workforce and leadership development for guardians. Another goal is to identify and pursue mutual interests with member universities, individually and collectively; establish scholarship, internship and mentorship opportunities for university students and ROTC cadets; and recruit and develop diverse guardians with a particular focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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