CLEMSON, S.C. (WSPA) – The United States Space Force welcomed Clemson on board as an official member of their University Partnership Program.

The partnership gives Clemson students in STEM fields the opportunity to learn more about U.S. space operations and the possibility to get a job with the Space Force after graduation.

“To ensure we’re developing the space leaders that we need both for the Space Force and the nation,” Vice Chief of Space Operations General David Thompson said. “To continue to provide opportunity for the nations and its citizens to grow and develop in areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

The partnership will also create educational and leadership development programs for existing Space Force employees.

General Thompson said there are several reasons why they chose Clemson.

“It has specialties in specific areas of space technologies that we’re interested in. In photonics, engineered light, energy systems, space weather, in optics. Those sorts of technologies that are important to us,” Thompson explained. “The second is it has such a tremendous reputation in developing space leaders, it has a powerful Air Force ROTC program and we’re using that to build off of.”

Thompson said they are looking to extend the program to other universities in the future.

Clemson is the thirteenth university nationwide to join the program.

Others include Georgia Tech, North Carolina A&T, and Purdue University.