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Radford, Empower AI (formerly NCI) partner for research collaboration, talent pipeline development

Radford University and Empower AI (formerly NCI), have established an agreement to build a collaborative and close working relationship that will further the goals and initiatives of both Empower AI and Radford students and faculty through joint academic, education and project-execution activities.



  • CFO & COO Chuck Hicks signs an MOU with Radford University.

  • Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., and Chuck Hicks


Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., and NCI executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer Chuck Hicks signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on January 5, 2021, to solidify the agreement.


The MOU states that Radford University and Empower AI “agree that cooperation in research collaborations, emerging technology assessment, Empower AI contract support, workforce development, talent pipeline development and student and faculty exchanges would be mutually beneficial.”


“We are excited about the possibilities of this partnership and what it means for Radford University, specifically immersive experiences for our students,” President Hemphill said. “Radford University is truly excited to have this unique opportunity to thoughtfully engage with NCI through this exciting initiative. It will be a significant step for our institution, and we will be a great partner with NCI for many years to come.”


The agreement will provide research collaboration opportunities between Empower AI and students and faculty in Radford University’s Artis College of Science and Technology, as well as emerging technology assessments, Empower AI contract support and Radford student and faculty engagement. With Empower AI’s focus on artificial intelligence solutions and work with government defense contracts, Radford students will be working on real-world challenges and finding creative solutions through collaboration with their faculty members, as well as Empower AI leaders.


The partnership is designed to also provide Radford University students with paid internship possibilities with Empower AI and cooperative education opportunities in collaboration with the University’s Center for Career Talent Development.


“We have an opportunity to provide a full talent pipeline to NCI,” said Angela Joyner, Ph.D., special advisor to the president for partnerships and chief innovation officer.

NCI staff will have opportunities for competency-based workforce development through the University’s Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab, which delivers online, self-paced, competency-based education in high-demand workforce areas throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and several neighboring states.


“We are extremely thrilled to collaborate with Radford University and look forward to working with students and faculty, as well as the Radford community,” Hicks said. “This academic-industry alliance is going to present NCI with a student population that will have requisites in a curriculum that ties in well with our initiatives related to developing and expanding our artificial intelligence capabilities and other cutting-edge solutions.”


Radford University Artis College of Science and Technology Dean J. Orion Rogers, Ph.D., said the agreement with Empower AI “provides our students and faculty with exciting opportunities that will take us and the School of Computing and Information Sciences to a new place with artificial intelligence.”


Based in Reston, Virginia, Empower AI is a mid-tier systems innovator and holds some of the best and largest government-wide acquisition contract vehicles in the industry. As a trusted go-to partner for government and private sector organizations, NCI is committed to continuous innovation and leveraging forward-leaning technologies, unwavering customer service, being responsive and empowering the workforce.


City of Radford Mayor David Horton said the partnership is “incredibly exciting for the Radford community and the entire region, because this is a model for 21st-century partnerships.


“It is incredible for Radford University and NCI to come together and create this opportunity in our region,” said Horton, who also serves as assistant to the dean of the Artis College of Science and Technology. “Partnerships like this typically are available mostly in metropolitan areas.”