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November 05
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Diversity In Action

ONR supports diverse techies in their work

The Office of Naval Research funds folks working in industry and academia to solve issues of interest to the Navy and Marines. It also hires a few directly


Anthony Junior: "HBCU faculty members work alongside scientists in our labs."

Anthony Junior: "HBCU faculty members work alongside scientists in our labs."

Anthony Junior is director of the historically black colleges and universities and minority institutions (HBCU/MI) program of the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

ONR is a funding organization for the Navy. It functions very much like the National Science Foundation, Junior explains, but focuses on military research.

"ONR supports scientists and technicians who are working in industry and universities. They may be solving scientific and technical issues that are encountered in the fleet, or creating new technologies that will ultimately be used in the fleet," Junior explains.

All the physical science disciplines, including computer science, chemistry and physics, are represented at ONR. The technical people who work for ONR have published and experienced some success in industry or their universities. At ONR they are responsible for evaluating research proposals in specific science or technology areas.

Hiring at ONR is selective. "The workforce here is pretty stable at our senior level," says Margaret Mitchell, head of ops in the ONR HR department and assistant to the director of civilian personnel. "We're looking for people with a wealth of knowledge and years of experience with R&D.

"The number of vacancies for science and technology program officers is small, but we do recruit about ten a year and these positions are very important to us."

Most ONR hires come from private industry, and most of the experienced openings call for a PhD, although it isn't required. "Our hiring really depends on what kinds of programs we need managers for," Mitchell adds.

By executive order, ONR's goal is to spend five percent of its college and university research funds at schools in the HBCU/MI category, Junior notes. In 2004 the Navy spent $96 million with HBCUs/MIs, and ONR was named as a top supporter of HBCUs in a NSBE survey last year.

"The HBCU connection is essentially part of expanding the scientific and technological base available to the Naval research enterprise," Junior explains. "Opportunities for the institutions to do research are expanded, and we're attracting the next generation workforce."

The Navy extends its reach by helping to arrange partnerships between HBCUs/MIs and naval prime contractors. For example, Junior reports that Georgia Tech is doing collaborative research with HBCU/MI institutions. It helped Alabama A&M-Huntsville; set up its research institute, and ONR helped promote a program between Georgia Tech and Florida International University.

"Johns Hopkins and a lot of the other majority institutions are looking to establish partnerships with HBCUs on research and educational programs," Junior says.

"Northrop Grumman just signed an agreement with Jackson State University to fund a professorship. Northrop Grumman located facilities on the JSU campus and has issued several subcontracts. Raytheon gave Tuskegee University $865,000 for materials science. Boeing has transferred patents to Alabama A&M.;"

Graduate and even undergrad students may get involved in Navy research their professors are working on. Financial support is available for students who are interested in Navy research opportunities.

"We've transferred surplus property to their institutions and funded instrumentation so that students' school lab environments will be similar to the Navy lab they worked at during our summer intern program," Junior explains.

Then there's the ten-week summer faculty program. "Faculty members from minority institutions work alongside the scientists in our labs on actual research," says Junior.

ONR posts jobs in USA Jobs, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management website and www.donhr.navy.mil, but word of mouth continues to be the best recruiting mechanism.

"Other employers in the marketplace may pay more, but the Navy has one of the most exciting, dynamic environments in the world for a scientist or engineer," Junior concludes.


Office of Naval Research

Headquarters: Arlington, VA
Employees: 700 worldwide, 450 at HQ
Mission: Coordinates, executes and promotes science and technology programs of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps; provides technical advice to the chief of Naval Ops and the Secretary of the Navy; works with industry to improve technology manufacturing processes


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