Sandia National Laboratories is expanding its network of academic partners to meet the demand for national security science and engineering. Texas A&M and Sandia have a long history of collaborating on research priorities and student recruitment. The new memorandum expand the existing relationships Sandia uses to carry out its national security programs, ranging from research to recruiting and workforce development.
“For nearly 15 years, Texas A&M University and Sandia National Laboratories have worked together to advance national security research,” said Texas A&M President M. Katherine Banks. “Becoming an alliance partner formalizes our working relationship and commitment to strengthening the safety of our country.”
Work at Sandia for federal agencies has been rising steadily. Over the past 5 years, the labs’ budget increased more than 50%, to $4.5 billion. Over the same period, the labs increased its workforce by more than 25%, to 15,000. As an Alliance Partner, Texas A&M will help the labs fulfill their mission in key areas for the Department of Energy (DOE) and other federal agencies.
Texas A&M and Sandia have research relationships in hypersonics, global security research, materials science and, more recently, infrastructure cybersecurity. These critical areas of research at Texas A&M are aligned with the labs’ core research objectives. The relationship is further strengthened by Texas A&M-RELLIS capabilities that facilitate collaboration and educational opportunities in areas such as autonomous and connected vehicles, robotics, large-scale infrastructure and smart power grids.
“Partnering with universities keeps Sandia science at the state of the art and enables us to do more research for our national security mission,” said Diane Peebles, Sandia’s senior manager of academic programs.
The formal partnership increases opportunities for students and researchers across the Texas A&M University System allowing them to start, this fall, participating in national security projects with Sandia. A formal relationship with Texas A&M enables Sandia to create student jobs through Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) funding and, most importantly, outside sources for collaborations with Sandians that can be used for research stipends.
“When we get students involved in that LDRD research, they get to see what Sandia projects look like, they get to work directly with Sandia principal investigators, and they get make a professional presentation at the end of each fiscal year to present their work,” Diane said.
Networking and recruiting events, also sponsored by Sandia and facilitated through the new agreement, help students find well-paying jobs after they graduate. “It’s a chance to make a serious impact in national security in a way that they probably wouldn’t have at other institutions,” Diane added.
The formalization of this agreement enhances access to the expertise of the entire Texas A&M University System.