Eleven U.S. Military Officers Join GTRI's Military Graduate Research Program
The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) has welcomed the fall 2022 cohort into its Military Graduate Research Program (MGRP). MGRP offers U.S military personnel the opportunity to conduct Department of Defense-related research in a GTRI lab while simultaneously obtaining a master's degree in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM)-related program at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).
The cohort consists of 11 officers – two from the U.S. Navy and nine from the U.S. Air Force – who are working in six of the eight GTRI labs. That brings the participation total in the program up to 17 since its inception in fall 2020. The two Navy officers bring fleet experience from operational tours and all nine of the Air Force officers are recent graduates of the U.S. Air Force Academy, who are on track to pursue careers in pilot training, cyber operations, developmental engineering, operations research, and military meteorology.
MGRP Chair Mario Mifsud, who serves as the associate lab director of GTRI's Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory (EOSL), called the program a win-win for all the involved parties, allowing service members to solve applied engineering problems on sponsored, real-world DoD-related projects while providing GTRI with top talent.
"This fall, GTRI is getting seasoned Navy officers who bring a wealth of military experience and Air Force Academy graduates who are really sharp students," Mifsud said. "For the participants, they have the opportunity to earn a paid-for master's degree from a renowned research university on top of gaining real-world experience. Everyone benefits from this program."
MGRP funds its graduate degree program through Georgia Tech's Graduate Student Tuition Remission Plan (GSTRP). Throughout the program, each participant serves as a military graduate research assistant (MGRA), which is the equivalent of a graduate research assistant or graduate teaching assistant (GRA/GTA). The fall 2022 semester is the first time GTRI will cover associated degree fees. Some tuition and fees are also waived due to the MGRA's military status. Book expenses are the MGRA's responsibility.
The MGRP selection process has three components.
First, the military officer must apply to a service sponsoring program, and the program must put the individual on active duty, Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders to the Atlanta area to participate in MGRP. At the same time, candidates apply to the Georgia Tech STEM graduate degree program of their choice and must be accepted into their desired program to be eligible to participate. Thirdly, candidates must fill out an MGRP program application, which is available on GTRI's MGRP webpage.
Once these three steps are completed, the candidate’s application package is forwarded to the GTRI labs, divisions, and branches that best align with the candidate’s graduate degree program and research area(s) of interest.
Mifsud said that the lab placements represent a best fit and many participants receive more than one offer from within the different GTRI labs.
In addition to spreading the word about GTRI's science and engineering expertise, Mifsud said MGRP builds a lifelong bond with service members and further strengthens GTRI's relationship with the military – for whom much of its work is dedicated.
"People say there is no free lunch," Mifsud said. "But in this program, there is. All of the players, all of the stakeholders, get something more economically than they would if they were doing things on their own."
Writer: Anna Akins
Georgia Tech Research Institute
Atlanta, Georgia USA
The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) is the nonprofit, applied research division of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Founded in 1934 as the Engineering Experiment Station, GTRI has grown to more than 2,800 employees, supporting eight laboratories in over 20 locations around the country and performing more than $700 million of problem-solving research annually for government and industry. GTRI's renowned researchers combine science, engineering, economics, policy, and technical expertise to solve complex problems for the U.S. federal government, state, and industry.