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Introducing the Defense Civilian Training Corps

Guest Blogger: Karen DaPonte Thornton, Research Fellow, Acquisition Innovation Research Center
The comments in this blog post are the author’s own.

This week, the Department of Defense launched the Defense Civilian Training Corps, a scholarship for service program designed to modernize the civilian acquisition workforce in partnership with higher education. DCTC complements existing scholarship programs that recruit and develop exceptional STEM and Cyber civilian talent within their academic fields, and the Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps (SROTC), which attracts top talent for the military officer ranks. To improve the collective speed and agility in delivering improved capabilities to the military, DCTC will improve acquisition workforce readiness to innovate as a team across disciplines.

The four host universities [North Carolina A&T (HBCU), Purdue University, University of Arizona (Minority Serving Institution), and Virginia Tech University], are currently creating a pilot cohort of scholars with diverse interests across the STEM disciplines, as well as public policy, business administration, finance, political science, and more.  Beginning this fall, DCTC Scholars will engage in multidisciplinary experiential learning in the classroom, studying emerging and current complex DoD development, acquisition, and sustainment challenges. The critical skills students will develop are directly tied to the National Defense Strategy. In the summer, each university cohort will participate in multidisciplinary team internships and challenge projects sponsored by DoD organizations.  Through the DCTC targeted education, internships and challenge projects, DCTC participants will understand and practice their role within the larger mission context.  Upon graduation, DCTC Scholars will be hired and be able to immediately start work in DOD organizations where they will have an immediate impact as a result of their DCTC experiential learning.

DCTC will enable the DoD to strengthen its DoD civilian workforce pipeline, strategically building talent pools to reflect the DoD’s demand signals for talent and skills for the future. DCTC plans to pilot cohort-hiring, a best practice in the private sector, in which post-graduate DCTC alumni will experience the culture of continued networking as a team and a career pathway that includes a combination of training, mentorship, and rotational job experiences. Development of an innovative workforce will require a combined effort of the entire national security ecosystem to achieve the flow of new ideas and collaborative mindset necessary to outpace near-peer adversaries. DCTC is an opportunity for an exciting collaboration across government, industry, and academia.  To learn more visit

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