The Official Logo for USD(R&E)

National Defense Education Program

National Defense Education Program

The DoD Awards $47 Million in Grants Through the NDEP

The Department of Defense (DoD), through the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), is pleased to announce more than $47 million to 15 awardees under the National Defense Education Program (NDEP) in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Biotechnology, and Enhanced Civics Education.

Awardees, consisting of a local education agency, institutions of higher education, and non-profits, are focused on activities related to STEM, including specific efforts geared toward biotechnology, a DoD modernization priority area. These organizations will receive a total of $43 million over three- or four-year periods, depending on the award. The goals for these awards are to (1) engage students and educators through STEM education, outreach, and workforce initiatives from early childhood through postsecondary education and (2) expand biotechnology outreach and workforce development activities.

“The Department of Defense is not only developing emerging technologies but also investing in the STEM workforce pipeline, which is critical to the Department and our Nation’s security,” said Ms. Heidi Shyu, the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. “These recognized awardees are helping to widen the pipeline of STEM talent to ensure that the talent is diverse, providing opportunities for students of all ages and educators of all grade levels, including those in underserved and underrepresented communities, military-connected students, and veterans. These programs will implement innovative approaches to STEM education and outreach while providing awareness of the Department’s STEM career pathways.”

Activities will support the DoD STEM Strategic Plan, Fiscal Year 2021–2025, and align to the 2018 Federal STEM Strategic Plan. Several of these efforts will include participation with the Department’s laboratories and military installations from across the country.
In addition, section 234 of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act required OUSD(R&E) to implement a pilot program on enhanced civics education in collaboration with the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) and/or Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). Enhanced Civics Education awardees will receive $4 million over two years to prepare the next generation to better understand the U.S. Government and their role as citizens in civic engagement.

Awardees Listed by Category

The primary goal of “Project Learning, Exploration, and Application for Prospective Engineering Students” (LEAPES) is to engage students in awareness, exploration, and preparation activities related to careers in aerospace engineering, AI, and computer science, as well as to contribute to long-term student retention in these degree programs.

Biotechnology Outreach and Workforce Development

  • Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona

    Implementation of a zero-cost K-12 pipeline will immediately engage 10 Arizona secondary schools (with 8 Title I programs), 20 teachers, and nearly 300 students in inquiry-based biotechnology education every year.

  • Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts

    “STEM Pathways” will develop a high school education and outreach program using Boston-area universities, companies, and non-profit organizations in a collection of yearly activities, including networking events, short courses, laboratory “rotations,” industrial internships, hackathons, and global science competitions.

  • University of California–Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California

    “SciTrekBiotech” engages teams of K-12 students in structured but self-driven explorations of bio-science/technology questions, using multi-tiered mentoring involving peers, K-12 teachers, and university students and faculty, while simultaneously targeting distinct groups in the STEM pipeline, from K-12 students, to teachers and teachers in training, to university students.

Enhanced Civics Education

  • Education Development Center, Waltham, Massachusetts

    “Supporting Readiness through Vital Civic Empowerment” (SRVCE) represents a unique effort to engage students from military-connected schools in robust civic inquiry.

  • iCivics, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    “Civics, Service, and Leadership” (CSL) will bring civics to life while teaching students how the U.S. Government works. CSL will use a new innovative program of educational video games and classroom resources designed for DoDEA and JROTC students.

Awardees' Abstracts
To read the selected awardees’ abstracts and learn about other DoD STEM partners, visit

Pre-K–20 STEM
For more information about the Department’s comprehensive Pre-K–20 STEM education and workforce development efforts, visit and be sure to follow @DoDSTEM on major social media platforms.

MITRE Report
A workforce assessment completed by MITRE in April 2021 for the biotechnology defense industrial base can be found on the Defense Technical Information Center’s website. Visit and search for “Biotechnology Defense Industrial Base (DIB) Workforce Assessment.”

About OUSD(R&E)
The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) is responsible for research, development, and prototyping activities across DoD. OUSD(R&E) fosters military technological dominance to ensure the unrivaled superiority of the American joint force. Learn more at or follow us on Twitter @DoDCTO.

Office of the Under Secretary of Defense,
Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E))
3030 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-3030