As the development of hypersonic capabilities for national security intensifies, there is an urgent need for research and workforce development. While the U.S. universities have been active in research on hypersonics for decades, there are indications that China has jumped ahead in this domain. A comparison of the university efforts on hypersonics in the United States and China indicates a need for the United States to pursue more holistic, interdisciplinary research approaches. The University of Colorado has established the Hypersonic Vehicles Interdisciplinary Research Team (HyVIRT) to focus research efforts on optimization of hypersonic vehicles across multiple disciplines, including aerothermodynamics, materials, propulsion, structures, and navigation and control. Current HyVIRT activities are summarized, with an emphasis on addressing thermal protection challenges.