Purdue’s FORCES Initiative: A Transformative Year

Featured Forces Initiatives Research News

Today, July 4th, the FORCES initiative of the Purdue College of Liberal Arts celebrates its first anniversary, as well as our nation’s birthday. It’s been a transformative year.

Sorin Adam Matei, PhD
Assistant Dean of Research
Director of FORCES

In a year of unprecedented upheaval, we created educational and research opportunities for Purdue students and scholars to study major issues of the day and connect with leading institutions, thinkers, and practitioners. FORCES started last summer with a staff of two and one big idea: Change the way CLA looks at strategy and security issues while connecting and collaborating with Purdue and national leaders in these fields.

Over the course of the year we created a community of learners and scholars that:

  1. Collaborated with the Naval Postgraduate School and the Marine Corps University in applying for over $1.5 million in funding from the Department of Defense. These projects related to battle analytics and AI use on the battlefield. We also raised $60,000 in direct support for the initiative.
  2. Built a battle flow analysis 3D toolkit that can be used to study past and future military operations. This enabled us to started analytic work to reinterpret past engagements and battles, such as Omaha Beach, Gettysburg, or Operation Barbarossa, and current or future flash points, such as the South China Sea.
  3. Created and taught an advanced course in Technology, War, and Strategy. As one of our students reported: “I will carry the lessons I learned from this course with me into my pursuits of higher education and professional opportunities.”
  4. Created an outreach program, TOURS de FORCES (pun intended), that will take Purdue students, alumni, and friends on learning trips to famous battlefields in Europe and North America.
  5. Organized and delivered a speaker series that congregated leading past and present practitioners from the Air War College, West Point, 1st Infantry Division, Rand Corporation, and Department of Defense. We discussed the future of the nuclear race, the creation of the F-16 fighter, the future of energy policy as a strategic choice, and the arms race between rail guns, hypersonic missiles, and smart bombs.
  6. Initiated a junior fellowship program, which has recruited and trained five undergraduate and graduate students.
  7. Engaged five faculty members.
  8. Established partnerships or relationships with Silicon Valley companies and security-related organizations, such as zSpace, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Air War College, the U.S. Army Center of Military History, U.S. Marine Corps University, and others.
  9. Launched an undergraduate internship program that will combine history, classics, and computer science.

Created to support interdisciplinary research and teaching focused on the strategic challenges of the contemporary world, the FORCES initiative has big plans for the future.

Building on our relationships and partnerships, we aim to raise more money for research through grants and fundraising. We value especially our internal relationship with the Institute for Global Security and Defense Innovation and its founder, Professor Dan DeLaurentis, a leader in hypersonic technologies. We are working on strengthening our collaboration with the Purdue Military Research Initiative, directed by Eric Dietz, PhD. We are also working on creating training and learning products for the military colleges and post-graduate institutions that bring together battle analytics with advanced 3D technologies.

We are proud Boilermakers working for the future of our university, whose vocation is to continue to create new ways to grow young minds and invent new things. As a land grant institution, this is especially true for the military and security arenas, in which FORCES takes a leading role.

We couldn’t have come so far this fast without the support of CLA Dean David Reingold, and our colleagues in the college. We offer our sincere thanks to all of you, who have done so much for us.

If you are interested in becoming a FORCES friend, please email us at forces@purdue.edu, visit our website and join us on Facebook. We look forward to connecting with you!

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