U.S. Air Force and George Mason University Partner to Modernize Warfighter Mission Training, Education and Research


FAIRFAX, Va. (July 17, 2023) – Headquarters Ninth Air Force (U.S. Air Forces Central) formalized a partnership with George Mason University for joint research, rapid capability development, warfighter training, and education to support the mission readiness of the Ninth Air Force. The Educational Partner Agreement (EPA) was signed on July 14, 2023, at Mason’s Fairfax Campus by Mason Provost Mark Ginsberg and Lieutenant General Alexus Grynkewich, Commander, Ninth Air Force (U.S. Air Forces Central).

ginsberg and Air Force commander
Provost Mark Ginsberg and Lt. Gen Grynkewich shake hands after signing of EPA agreement. Photo by William Gallagher/Powell Media Concepts

“Mason is committed to access to excellence in education and innovative student learning experiences, while providing cutting-edge breakthrough research and capabilities to address the nation’s greatest challenges more quickly, said Provost Ginsberg. “This partnership will strengthen Mason’s unique approach to supporting our military professionals and provide the Air Force access to the world-class thought leadership of the largest, most innovative public research university in Virginia. This model of shared research and curriculum development with the Air Force opens opportunities for additional collaborations with public and governmental organizations.” 

“We’re very thankful for this partnership with George Mason, where we see tremendous opportunities for collaboration, thinking creatively, and building a culture of innovation,” said Lt. General Grynkewich.

The partnership will include applied research and development programs with the College of Engineering and Computing's national security and defense teams Mason’s Rapid Prototyping Research Center along with digital transformation efforts coordinated through Mason’s Institute for Digital Innovation. Ninth Air Force personnel will also gain access to customized executive, continuing, and professional education programs, along with specialized graduate and PhD programs offered through Mason’s School of Business and College of Engineering and Computing.

“As the most diverse and innovative university in the commonwealth, Mason is meeting today’s needs and inspiring future insights of public and private sector organizations,” said School of Business Dean Ajay Vinzé. “By providing multiple pathways for all students, Mason is fueling success in both the public and private sectors. As a highly ranked university for business analytics, this collaboration will provide direct impact and a transformative experience for the men and women of the Ninth Air Force and beyond.”

"Our relationship with Mason has grown since August 2022, as they collaborated with us early on our journey to become a data-centric organization through delivery of customized data-driven decision-making and senior leadership programs executed by School of Business faculty and Executive Development teams," said Lieutenant Colonel Chaz LeDeatte, Chief Technology and Data Officer. "By December of 2022, the success of the relationship sparked interest in expanding to a formal partnership with Mason across multiple disciplines."

Leaders from Mason’s School of Business, the College of Engineering and Computing, and the Institute for Digital Innovation began working with AFCENT warfighters and senior leaders to design research and curriculum. They included programs in innovation and creativity, digital transformation, applied research in systems engineering and integration, program management, and military transition of advanced technologies.

"Collaboration efforts will prioritize refining our digital education program, freeing the data, digital and unmanned tech operational validation, and making our air bases more efficient and effective," said. Lt. Col. LeDeatte.

Additionally, Mason and AFCENT will collaborate on projects related to accelerating the digital capabilities in areas to include digital transformation, cyber security and resiliency, sensor fusion and anomaly detection, predictive analytics, systems engineering, and 5G and data analytics capabilities at the battlefield's edge, as well as advances in robotics, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and unmanned aerial systems, among other collaborations.

About Ninth Air Force Central (U.S. Air Force Central)

Ninth Air Force is the air component of United States Central Command, a joint Department of Defense combatant command responsible for U.S. security interests in 27 nations that stretch from the Horn of Africa through the Persian Gulf region, into Central Asia. USAFCENT is responsible for air operations, either unilaterally or in concert with coalition partners, and developing contingency plans in support of national objectives for USCENTCOM’s 21-nation area of responsibility in Southwest Asia. Additionally, USAFCENT manages an extensive supply and equipment prepositioning program at several Area of Responsibility sites. USAFCENT is headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. Learn more at www.afcent.af.mil.

About George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls nearly 40,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility. In 2023, the university launched Mason Now: Power the Possible, a one billion dollar comprehensive campaign to support student success, research, innovation, community, and sustainability. Learn more at gmu.edu.