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SOS In-Residence Students

AU Advanced Research Elective


Please watch the introductory video first: "Research Elective."
Also see Air Force News Articles discussing some of the impacts the Advanced Research Elective is having:

The Air University (AU) Advanced Research Elective is an opportunity for a selective group of students to conduct independent research on topics of strategic concern. This is a six and a half week elective requiring approximately 20-40 hours beyond SOS curriculum. Selected students are assigned mentor(s) who guide research efforts and define deliverables. Students researchers receive a bullet on their AF 475 Training Report. Student benefits include advanced study on exciting topics, networking with communities of interest throughout the research experience, and opportunity to shape the Air Force's and Space Force's future.

The specific challenges for the next class and application instructions are below.

*Note: the Think Tank elective is a separate program with a separate application process.  Please only apply to the one that interests you the most.  Both are rigorous efforts that will be noted on Training Reports (AF Form 475) and both will expose you to different areas of Air University. 


Research Topics for Class 21B VIR-R

Below are the descriptions of the AUAR research topics currently available.

AF IT User Experience (UX) Optimization - In coordination with the Chief Experience Officer (CXO) of the United States Air Force, students will have the opportunity to dive into a practical project of improving commonly used Air Force systems/applications. Students will solicit feedback and ideas from a user experience (UX) and functional perspective on what optimizations can be incorporated into improving usability. This applied research topic challenges students to design/develop or recommend enhancements to the CXO with guidance from Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) at Cyberworx and Kessel Run.

AF Maker - Get your creative thinking cap on and help make progress on a current, relevant Air Force problem. Innovate to find solution(s). Investigate applications for additive manufacturing of rapid prototypes and potentially deployable solutions for various AF customer challenges. Additionally, if you have access to a 3D printer or design software, this elective is intended to connect with the growing community if AF makers under the mentorship of AFWERX SPARK Cell Lead, as well as a 3D printing nerd straddling the guard & civilian communities.  Don't know how to design and/or 3D print? We'll do our best to connect you to resources to take your ideas to print!

Artificial Intelligence - In coordination with the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) and the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), students will apply experience and critical thinking skills to research problems submitted by subject matter experts across the AF and Joint community. Advisors will be available to guide the student's efforts on the topic of their choice.

Some topic areas include but are not limited to, the following:

  • Multi-national Human-Machine teams and Trust relationships
  • AI Ethics
  • Operationalizing AI
  • Effects of autonomous systems on Multi-national Air Operations
  • Impact of AI on the various AFSCs

Barrier Analysis Working Group Collaborative -  In coordination with the Department of the Air Force's Barrier Analysis Working Group (DAFBAWG), Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College, students will leverage their experiences and expertise to help drive positive change across the Air Force through research aligned with current Line of Effort provided by the BAWG Teams. Students will have access to subject matter experts and mentors from across AU and from the BAWG Teams: Women's Initiative Team (WIT), Black/African American Employment Strategy Team (BEST), Pacific Islander and Asian American Community Team (PACT), Hispanic Employment Analysis Team (HEAT), Disability Team (DT), and Senior Leader Advancement Team (SLAT).

Combat Air Forces (CAF) Reimagine Joint All Domain Operations (JADO) for 2030 flight - How will ops look in 2030? You and your fellow researchers will work with Air Force experts and strategists to forge what JADO will look like from an Air Force and Joint perspective. Dive into how services can better communicate, integrate weapon capabilities, and conduct ops at blistering speed to keep our adversaries off balance.  The topic is alive/constantly in development and of high interest to senior leaders.  If you want to be part of how we, as a service, will doctrinally fight in a 2030+ fight, sign up!  ALL AFSCs ARE WELCOME TO APPLY.  IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN A CHALLENGE, APPLY. (4-6 researchers will be accepted). Skills desired, but not required: EMS, AOC, Intel, Cyber, CAF, MAF, SOF experience.

Ideas and Weapons: Building the Future Air Force - The Air Force invests billions of dollars every year into research and development of new technologies. From basic scientific research to advanced prototypes, almost all of this money is spent on hardware and software to attain technological advantage. However, superior technology alone cannot guarantee successful pursuit of desired national security goals. This research elective considers three questions. How should the Air Force best use its tools? How do organizations need to change to leverage new technologies? What gaps and seams exist that the service needs to address?

Mobility Air Forces (MAF) Sustainment & Operation in Contested Environments - In coordination with the MAF Faculty Chair at Air War College, students will apply their experience and critical thinking skills to develop research-based solutions for the problems encountered in sustaining and operating mobility forces in contested environments.  Subject matter experts from across Air University serve as senion mentors who will guide research and connect student researchers to stakeholders within the larger Mobility Forces community, particularly Air Mobility Command and U.S. Transportation Command.

Next-Generation Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Dominance - In coordination with the ISR Chair at the LeMay Center for Doctrine, and the Air War College/Air Command and Staff College ISR Research Task Force, students will apply experience and critical thinking skills to research specific problems submitted by senior leaders and subject matter experts across the USAF ISR enterprise. Advisors will be made available to guide student efforts. For this iteration of the program, students will submit findings focused on Russia as a near-peer competitor to include the following sub-topics:

  • Potential conflict scenarios in the Baltics
  • Lessons learned from previous crises involving Russia (Georgia, Crimea, etc.)
  • Russian military exercises
  • Russian escalation and risk tolerance
  • Current political levers with Russia
  • And many more potential avenues of research on Russia!
Application Instructions

Students can find the AUAR application on Canvas.  After logging into Canvas, click on AUAR, scroll to the bottom of the page and click SUBMIT HERE

Applications include a short 2-part prompt. Part A asks why you are interested in being an AU Researcher and any special skills/knowledge you possess that makes you uniquely qualified for the program(s) you are interested in, in 250 words or less. Part B requires you answer a specific question related to the program(s) you are interested in/each in 250 words or less.

Applications are due NLT 1230 CST, ED-2 (Tuesday, 12 January).  Students will be informed of selection per the calendar by ED-4 (Thursday, 14 January).

Thank you for your interest!

25 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112