Academic Research Division

Academic Research Division logo

Research is a strength of West Point and provides context to the classroom. It is central to a vibrant and relevent faculty and is one way West Point connects to the Army and to the Nation. Our students are driven, our faculty are world-class, and the Army applies that combination to its most difficult problems.

West Point faculty and student researchers regularly produce and present scholarly works (books, journals, conferences), and cadets routinely win Best Paper Awards at national and international graduate-level conferences. Members of our faculty hold fellowships and chairmanships in their disciplines with national organizations, and our products are deployed to the soldier.

Points of Contact:
Dr. Ken Wickiser, Associate Dean for Research
Ms. Carol Spisso,, Research Operations Administrative Officer

Research Overview

The Academic Research Division (ARD) is responsible for reviewing and authorizing proposals for submissions and for interpreting and accepting MIPRS, awards, and grants funded by Department of Defense, federal and states agencies, foundations, and other sources. ARD Research Operations prepares and negotiates all sub-awards for collaborative research.

Research Origins

West Point has been the center of Scientific and Philosophical discovery since 1802. Our first Superintendent founded the United States Military Philosophical Society in November 1802 to 'make West Point a center of scientific discovery and invention'. Serving as our first ever donor, Superintendent Jonathan Williams provided enough private funding, through a stock donation, for our cadets and faculty to expand on Benjamin Franklin’s basic scientific studies and a small amount to build a library. When the War of 1812 depleted the faculty at West Point, Captain Sylvanus Thayer was the lone voice fighting to keep the USMPS in operation. Five years later he would be Superintendent.

Research and the West Point Mission

In today’s environment, the Army is telling West Point that ‘Critical Thinking’ is core to today’s definition of professional excellence. Gone are the days when the Army needed ‘in-the-box’ and predictable decision-makers. When West Point needed to produce ‘in-the-box’ leaders we taught using drill problems that were the same problems handed down through the decades. The Iraq and Afghanistan experience has taught us that we need leaders that can take minimal guidance, problem-solve, and creatively execute with limited resources. West Point has adjusted by having cadets work on real-world research where even the instructor does not know the right answer. Because our cadets represent the top 10% of American youth, we have not been disappointed by their creativity and real-world solutions.


West Point as a Research Institution

West Point has the largest concentration of advanced degrees in the Army in one place. These Soldiers and Civilians are motivated to stay at the forefront of their expertise and give back to the Army. West Point is consistently ranked in the top ten colleges in America because the faculty teaching cadet courses are doing the research.

West Point has a very unique ability to do interdisciplinary, cutting-edge basic and applied research. Our unique ability comes from our willingness to break down traditional stovepipes and work together to produce the best possible leader for our Army. Bigger and better funded universities and colleges often visit and are shocked at how well our faculty and staff collaborate. Our researchers openly share and collaborate at a rate that none can replicate. Those collaborations create solutions that draw from multiple disciplines and are far out-of-the-box.

Research Project Selection

First and foremost is the expertise and passion of our faculty. Sixty percent of our instructors just left combat and were sent for an advanced degree at one of our nation’s top universities or colleges. When they arrive at graduate school they are hungry to get to work on solutions to the problems they faced in combat. There are many stories of combat seasoned officers arriving at a graduate school and, through intensity and passion, convincing their professors to work on Army problems. In some cases, savvy research agencies throughout the Army, DOD, and government partner with our faculty to resource their passion and transition products or concepts to the Soldier. In other cases, individual and corporate donors provide resourcing to kick-start innovation. In every case, West Point encourages the research that transfers into the classroom.