American Indian Research Opportunities (AIRO) is a consortium of Montana's seven Tribal Colleges (Blackfeet Community College, Chief Dull Knife College, Aaniiih Nakoda College, Fort Peck Community College, Little Big Horn College, Salish Kootenai College, and Stone Child College) and Montana State University-Bozeman , dedicated to providing opportunities for American Indian students in career fields where they are significantly underrepresented. The advisory board to the AIRO consortium consists of representatives from each of the seven tribal colleges and Montana State University-Bozeman.
Specific goals and aims of AIRO follow:
- to recruit, retain and graduate American Indians (and other minorities/disadvantage students) with associate, baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees in Science, Engineering and Mathematics (SEM);
- to promote SEM fields to American Indian students, parents, teachers, and the Indian community;
- to facilitate key transition points with special assistance/counseling/support (i.e., from high school to two-year college; from high school to four-year college; from two-year to four-year institutions; from four-year institutions to graduate/professional schools;
- to foster and implement SEM educational programs for the purpose of greater self-determination of Indian people;
- to increase significantly the number of American Indian students majoring in SEM-related curricula by improving their academic competitiveness;
- to establish and maintain a longitudinal student tracking database for America Indians in SEM;
- to develop partnerships and networks with other SEM-based programs (i.e., businesses, industry, state/federal agencies, museums) committed to furthering the goals of AIRO by increasing American Indian student recruitment, retention and graduation in SEM;
- to develop close working relationships and productive linkages with minority initiative programs of various federal agencies (i.e., NASA, NSF, NIH, DoE, EPA, USDA, DOD, and ED);
- to introduce students to career opportunities and the art of scientific investigation including instruction on the principles of scientific integrity, the responsible conduct of research and high ethical and professional standards by participating in laboratory research projects;
- to develop and implement a comprehensive evaluation system for assessing both qualitative and quantitative changes and implementing program modification;
- to enlist collaboration and support from the administration of participating units in institutionalizing the overall goal and specific aims of AIRO.