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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 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 20C

Below are the descriptions of the AU Research programs available. Students will be informed of selection per the calendar by ED-4 (Friday, 13 March)

AF Maker Research  - Try your hand at designing or printing on a 3D printer in our SOS maker space. Investigate applications for additive manufacturing of rapid prototypes and potentially deployable solutions for various AF customer challenges.  Connect with our growing community of AF makers under the mentorship of a leader in the 3D printing industry.

AU Strategic Communication & Social Media  - Public affairs, strategic communication, and social media are vital to leading the U.S. Air force in the 21st century, though these competencies are often underappreciated.  Our connection to our audience is crucial and without it in today's technological environment, we'd be lost.  Work directly with Lt General Hecker, Commandant and Commander of Air University, who has challenged AUAR to create a video that highlights how junior officers create a community in the Montgomery area during their stay at SOS.  AU will showcase your creativity, fresh ideas, and perspectives to an AF-wide audience and beyond.  You will help lay the foundation of AU's strategic plan by collaborating with leaders from the state of Alabama, AF senior leaders, and fellow AF Captains.

Augmented Reality App Development  - Iterate on the work of previous AU Advanced Researchers to design and develop a prototype Augmenting Reality demonstration app.  The commandant was very impressed with the possibilities for enhancing the learning experience for SOS students.  As students, you have the best window into if and how your colleagues would use such an app.

We are soliciting up to 5 student researchers to analyze the many use cases previous  student researchers have demonstrated, focus in on which ones provide the best value to SOS students, and develop the next prototype of an AF SOS student support app.  You will be working as a team with an experienced faculty mentor.

Skills desired, but not required:
Unity development
Vuforia development
design experience

Combat Air Forces (CAF) Reimagine JADC2 for 2030 - Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) is essential to integrating our military forces in a peer adversary fight.  SOS students will reimagine JADC2 for a 2030 fight at an unclassified level in coordination with Subject Matter Experts at Air Command and Staff College and LeMay Center. Define JADC2, identify linchpins in coordination and blaze a path toward the future in warfighting capability. Experience in multi-domain operations or joint service is desired but any AFSC is welcome!

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Initiatives and Solutions - In coordination with Air Command and Staff College and Air War College, students will apply their experience and critical thinking skills to develop research-based solutions for the problems encountered in creating and sustaining diverse and inclusive environments in today's Air Force. USAF's Women's Initiative Team (WIT) and subject matter experts from across Air University serve as senior mentors who will guide research and connect student researches to stakeholders within Headquarters Air Force.

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?

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 this year's HAF/A2/6 study topics. Aligning with the Air Force Next Generation ISR Dominance Flight Plan initiatives, researchers will explore new ideas addressing how we will provide decision advantage to warfighters, examine what the Collaborative Sensing Grid would enable, and investigate complexities of applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to the ISR enterprise. Subject matter experts across Air University will mentor, guide-mentor, and connect student researchers to greater communities of interest.

Optimizing SOF for the Future Operating Environment - The Future Operating Environment (FOE) will be characterized by peer, near-peer and non-state competitors, with technologically advanced threats, ubiquitous surveillance, AI enabled battle networks, an accelerating rate of change, globally scaled an interconnected information and the increasing relevance of people and populations in competition and conflict. SOF requires new operating concepts and associated capabilities to confront this broad range of anticipated future security challenges. How does SOF preserve and grow readiness in this environment?

SOS APP Development - Iterate on the work of previous AU Advanced Researchers  to develop an SOS App using Google's newest app development environment, Flutter.  Flutter offers the ability to code an app in one environment that will work across different platforms, android or apple, and their various devices.  Take a look at what Flutter is "What is Flutter?"  

We are considering up to 5 students to continue development of an SOS AppPrevious work has laid a good foundation which includes how-to's and a functioning app with login capability.  Desired functionality is already provided, but the how to get there is where you come in!  Highly developed coding skills are preferred to achieve the desired functionality.  If interested you can get started now by going to the repository here: SOS App. The next desired functionality is a feedback system.  You will be working as a team with an experienced faculty mentor.

Skills desired, but not required: Coding

User Experience (UX) Optimization for Air Force IT Systems - 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 (SME) at Cyberworx and Kessel Run.

Application Instructions

Applicants should download and complete the application found on Canvas.  After logging into Canvas, select AU Advanced Research Elective, scroll to the bottom of the page and click SUBMIT HERE

Applications include a 2-part prompt no longer than 700 words. 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. Part B requires you answer a specific question related to the program(s) you are interested in.

Applications are due NLT 0730, ED-3 (Thursday, 12 March).  Students will be informed of selection per the calendar by ED-4 (Friday, 13 March).


Thank you for your interest and begin to think strategically.

25 Chennault Circle
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112