EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The University of Texas at El Paso and the University of Texas at Austin joined a partnership with the U.S. Space Force on Thursday.

The agreement brings the UT system and armed services branch together to conduct advanced research and develop a workforce for future technologies.

“The University of Texas at El Paso has been engaged in aerospace research for decades. We are pleased to be able to support the Space Force as they develop the capabilities to protect America’s vital national interests in space,” said UTEP President Heather Wilson. “This agreement further establishes the greater El Paso region as a leader in space flight and aerospace research.”

The two Texas universities join nine others selected to join the Space Force University Partnership Program in 2021. The schools were selected based on the quality of STEM degrees offered, space-related research, robust ROTC programs, diverse student populations and degrees in programming designed to support military, veterans and their families in pursuing higher education.

The main objectives of the partnership are to establish opportunities for top-notch research, advanced academic degrees and workforce leadership development for USSF Guardians. Program objectives are also aimed at developing research between universities with mutual interests.

It also provides scholarship, internship and mentorship opportunities for students and ROTC cadets. The program also helps recruit and develop diverse officer, enlisted and civilian Guardians with focuses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.