AU Advanced Research Elective

  • Published
  • Squadron Officer School, Air University, Maxwell AFB, AL


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 five 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. Student 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 22D

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

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!

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).

Financial MentorshipAre you interested in personal finances or want to know more? Have you seen Airmen within your unit struggle with their personal finances? This elective seeks motivated people to work together to determine what the biggest financial challenges our Airmen face and the current resources available to them. The end product will be a library of standardized digital products, backed by data, that can be used by front-line supervisors to mentor Airman and increase financial literacy across our units.

ISR Considerations for US National Security - 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 China or Russia as a strategic competitor. If there are other topics of interest that students desire to focus on, these will be approved by the Next Gen ISR facilitators. Efforts will be scoped to a specific operational-level problem and the resulting strategic implications (for example, China's aggressive posturing for a takeover of Taiwan or a Russian incursion of a Baltic nation). Potential topics centered on an operational crisis will include:

  1. USAF and Joint Application of ISR
  2. The status of regional security partnerships
  3. Chinese or Russian military capabilities vs. regional US/partner military capabilities
  4. Adversary and friendly force information warfare/operations
  5. Competitor and/or US use of non-kinetic or cyber effects
  6. And many more potential avenues of research on China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, etc!

Technology Integration - In support of CSAF Brown’s Strategic Approach “Accelerate Change or Lose” (August 2020) and the supporting action orders: A) Airmen, B) Bureaucracy, C) Competition, and D) Design Implementation; Integrating Technologies is a topic geared towards exploration, discovery and collaboration of ways units can integrate technology in the short term for long term success. No experience or expertise is required. Pending acceptance to the program you will be assigned to one of the teams listed below which are the result of the previous class. One group will be selected to present at the end of the course to the Commandant. 

  1. Squadron Officer School (part of the Air University) phone application development
  2. Integrating health applications for increased Airman Fitness/Readiness. This group will decide on a strategy for motivating Airmen to increase their fitness with the integration of health applications. 
  3. Operationalizing AR/VR: This group is focused on looking for opportunities to find ways to employ and operationalize AR/VR use throughout the Air Force. 
  4. Artificial Intelligence to the squadron: Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool but why aren't we using it everyday for things that matter?

Social Media - Social Media seeks passionate storytellers to develop a social media strategy for the organization, preparing them to be the champions of their units upon their return. Students will work as a team to generate content that highlights their student experience, while also examining resources and constraints unique to a military organization. In short, AUAR-SM is a no-fail strategic communication mission that just happens to be a ton of fun.
End product will be the SOS 22D grad video, along with a presentation to the SOS Commandant to discuss their social media strategy, and the victories and challenges they experienced.

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, 19 April).  Students will be informed of selection per the calendar by ED-4 (Thursday, 21 April).

Thank you for your interest!

Squadron Officer School
125 Chennault Circle 

Building 1403
Maxwell AFB, AL 36112