Universities and the Military
how does your university tie in?

The University-Industrial-
Academic Complex:

Institutional and Interpersonal Links

University Profiles

The Baskin Study:
Military Research at UC Santa Cruz

Research Guide:
How to find out what your
university is up to

Some way to relax

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Universities and the Military

Since WWII, DoD funding of scientific research, development, testing, and evaluation has remained the first priority of federal research funds. The military led the way in creating federal agencies, offices and partnerships with America's universities and research centers. Prior to WWII there had been no serious attempt by the federal government to fund academic research. During WWII, the DoD created agencies and linkages that provided billions of dollars to universities and corporations to research and design the weapons that would win the war and wage future wars. Among these weapons was most notably the atomic bomb, but also the proximity fuze, missile technology, and radar. Breakthroughs in electronics during the war led to the modification of anti-aircraft guns with analog computers, used to calculate the firing times and trajectories necessary to hit high speed targets like fighter-bomber aircraft and the German V-1 rocket. Computers were used to calculate artillery tables, they solved complicated engineering problems, decoded enemy communications, and opened up the future of technological war.

The Enlistment of Science and Technology

Leading members of America's academic institutions joined Vannevar Bush, an electrical engineer at the Massachusettes Institute of Technology (MIT) in the creation of the National Defense Research Committee. The committee's mandate was to conduct research in service of America's military. It was composed of Frank Jewitt (National Academy of Science and AT&T), James Connant (President of Harvard), Karl Compton (President of MIT), and Richard Tolman (Caltech). A year later the same men founded the Office of Scientific Research and Development, which allowed them more ability to take research projects from basic phases into the development and applications stages. President Roosivelt signed off on the efforts signaling that, "essentially for the first time, the proper function of government included support of basic research by university scientists". Toward the wars end the future of academia and the military were bound. Charles E. Wilson, Executive VP of the War Production Board , President of General Motors Corp., and later Secretary of Defense under the Eisenhower administration, summed it up in 1944 saying:

"What is more natural and logical than that we should henceforth mount our national policy upon the solid fact of an industrial capacity for war, and a research capacity for war that is also 'in being'? It seems to me that anything less is foolhardy.".