Chief Technologist's Corner 2012 Archive
January 6, 2012
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering (DASD(SE)) announced selections for the DoD Systems Engineering Top 5 Program Award. Demonstrating the importance of collaboration between Government and Industry, the awards, now in their 6th year, are presented to both the Government lead program office and the industry prime contractor to recognize superb Defense Acquisition Programs. Evaluators judge the programs based on their execution of core Systems Engineering technical and management practices in the prior year.
The winners of the 2011 Top 5 Program Awards are:
Army: Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense (AIAMD)
Government: AIAMD Project Office
Industry: Northrop Grumman Corporation
Army: Chinook CH-47F Multi-Year I
Government: Program Manager Cargo
Industry: The Boeing Company
Navy: Advanced Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robotic System (AEODRS)
Government: Naval Surface Warfare Center, Naval EOD Technology Division
Industry: Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL)
Navy: CH-53K Heavy Lift Replacement Helicopter (HLR)
Industry: Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation
Air Force: Enterprise Business Systems
Government: Air Force Research Laboratory
Industry: Jacobs Technology, Tybrin Group
Congratulations to the winners!
January 20, 2012
In November, I attended the 8th Annual Disruptive Technologies Conference in Washington, DC. Sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), this conference was the follow-on to the 12th Annual Science & Engineering Technology Conference/DoD Tech Exposition held this past June.
At the conference, which was attended by representatives of industry and academia, the department identified technical challenges to promote opportunities for collaborative development of technology to address current capability gaps. The leaders of the Priority Steering Councils (PSCs) for each of the seven S&T Priorities discussed the development of roadmaps to inform and guide Department investments in each area. The PSC leaders' presentations are available here:
- Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction
- Electronic Warfare & Protection
- Human Systems
- Engineering Resilient Systems
February 16, 2012
New Independent Research and Development Initiative to Strengthen Communication Between Industry and the Department of Defense
The Department of Defense (DoD) views the defense industrial base's independent research and development (IR&D) investments as an important source of technology innovation for its acquisition programs. On January 30th, the Federal Register published an update to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) revising requirements for reporting IR&D project data. The new DFARS rule is intended to increase the payoff from the IR&D program by improving knowledge and communication of technology investments between industry and DoD.
The department's investments in IR&D provide us with a rich and diverse source of innovation, thanks to the ideas, technical talent, and competiveness found within the defense industrial base. However, we've learned through conversations with industry leaders and our program managers that there is a need for more effective methods to share information about the IR&D projects and the new DFARS rule will help strengthen communication.
Background and New DFARS Rule Details
The DoD reimburses firms approximately $4B annually for IR&D investments through indirect overhead charges to existing contracts. In the 1990s, DoD reduced its technical exchanges with industry, in part to ensure the independence of research and development. Since this time, there has been a loss of visibility into the opportunities available from industry's IR&D investments and the DFARS rule provides the needed mechanism for industry to submit their annual project data.
- The DFARS rule applies to major contractors, who are defined as firms that receive reimbursements totaling more than $11 million in IR&D/Bid and Proposal costs to covered contracts.
- The rule also encourages firms that fall below the $11 million threshold to voluntarily submit IR&D project data.
- DoD will not use this effort to infringe on a company's independence to choose its research and development investments.
DoD has created the Defense Innovation Marketplace, (www.DefenseInnovationMarketplace.mil), a new website to increase communication between industry and government. The website is designed to be a centralized one-stop resource for industry with useful information — such as military service(S&T) plans, funding opportunities, and meetings of interest. The site will also be used by DoD acquisition and S&T program managers to gain information about industry's IR&D projects, connect them with researchers in industry and then, leverage their technologies.
February 29, 2012
Oral Remarks to the House Armed Services Committee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
The President's $11.9 billion request for DoD science and technology supports the President's Defense Strategy and reflects HIS commitment to ensure a strong S&T Enterprise to develop the advanced capabilities upon which our men and women in uniform have come to rely. This request provides the necessary resources to maintain the decisive technological edge for today's challenges, and the foundation to stay ahead of the most lethal and disruptive threats of the future.
The ability of the Joint Forces to project power and succeed in future operations will be increasingly challenged by new capabilities made possible by advances in technology, and by new tactics that employ commercial technology in new and innovative ways.
The clear technical advantage upon which our forces have come to rely and which we currently enjoy can only be guaranteed with a dedicated and sustained effort. The globalization of technology, enabled by the rise in global research and development investments, has collapsed the pace of innovation for both the U.S. and our adversaries opening up new opportunities for technical surprise, that is both a challenge and an opportunity to exploit.
The President's budget request provides the right mix of programs and investments in basic, applied, and advanced research to guarantee our leadership position. It includes a number of enterprise initiatives across the Department that ensure these valuable resources are invested wisely with focus and with the goal of accelerating the transition of concepts into capabilities for our Joint Forces.
Importantly, our success is made possible by the impressive work of our dedicated scientists and engineers both in the Department of Defense and in the larger S&T enterprise of academia, industry, federal labs, federally funded research and development centers, and university affiliated research centers. This is THE most impressive collection of technical talent to be found anywhere in the world, and our budget request provides the necessary resources to keep this enterprise healthy and strong.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present these brief remarks; with Congressional support for the President's budget, the research and engineering enterprise will have the resources it needs to ensure a strong technical base to enhance our Nation's security. I look forward to your questions.
March 18, 2012
On Friday, March 16, 2012, the Naval Research Laboratory opened a new facility, the Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR), at its main site in Washington, D.C.
LASR will capitalize on the broad multidisciplinary character of NRL, bringing together scientists and engineers with disparate training and backgrounds to attack common goals in autonomous systems at the intersection of their respective fields. The Laboratory will provide unique facilities and simulated environments (littoral, desert, tropical) and instrumented reconfigurable high bay spaces to support integration of science and technology components into research prototype systems.
- The Prototyping High Bay: This space is 150' x 75' x 30' high can be used for small autonomous air vehicles, autonomous ground vehicles.
- The Littoral High Bay: This pool 45' x 25' x 5.5' will have a 16-channel wave generator, allowing directional waves and materials such as sand, dirt and gravel that can then be put into the pool, allowing surf-like conditions.
- The Desert High Bay: Contains a 40' by 14' area of sand 2-foot deep, and 18-foot high rock walls that allows testing of robots and sensors in a desert-like environment.
- The Tropical High Bay: This is a 60' by 40' greenhouse that contains a re-creation of a southeast Asian rain forest, with temperatures that average 80 degrees and 80 percent humidity year round where rain events of up to 6 inches per hour can be generated.
- Human-systems Interaction Labs: The four human-systems interaction labs can be used as control rooms for human-subject experiments, or for development of autonomy software. These labs contain eye trackers and multi-user/multi-touch displays.
- Sensor Lab: This lab contains environmental chambers (including a smaller chamber where temperature, humidity and barometric pressure can be controlled and a large walk-in chamber with control of temperature and humidity), an anechoic chamber, and an aerosol test facility.
The Department's investments in autonomy are focused on developing systems that can operate in complex real-world environments. Such systems will augment or substitute for human operators, particularly in hazardous environments, and to conduct missions that are impractical or impossible for humans. I applaud the Naval Research Lab building this state-of-the art facility and look forward to seeing the advances that are sure to follow in this S&T priority area.
More information about the new lab is detailed in an informative Question & Answer with the LASR's director, Alan C. Schultz.
*Details for this CT Corner came from the NRL website (www.nrl.navy.mil)
March 28, 2012
The Department of Defense is placing a Big Bet on Big Data" was the theme of my presentation at today's panel hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to launch the Administration's new "Big Data" research and development initiative.
We intend to change the game and plan to be the first to demonstrate and use autonomous and secure peer-to-peer systems across the full scope of military operations. For example:
- We are within sight of a new generation of systems that understand and interpret the real world with computer speed, computer precision and human agility. These systems will not only be central to helping our commanders and analysts make sense of the huge volumes of data our military sensors collect, they will also support multiple missions.
- We see an opportunity to build truly autonomous systems that go well beyond tethered joysticks. These systems will be agile, they will maneuver and understand their environment, they will make decisions by themselves, and they will know what they can and can't do and know when to call upon a human peer.
- We see a revolution emerging in harnessing and utilizing massive data in new ways through data analytics and prognosis. The modern discipline of data to decision has the potential to bring together sensing, perception and decision support in new ways that will make truly autonomous systems possible.
Across the department there are approximately 80 programs representing $250 million in annual investments in these areas and there are currently more than 20 open solicitations. Information on these
solicitations can be found on the Funding section of this site as well as added to www.DefenseInnovationMarketplace.mil, a new website created to better communicate DoD
investment priorities to industry and academia.
We are looking for a generation of new ideas and accelerated progress, across a broad range of new performers. In the next several months, a series of prize competitions in targeted areas will be announced. And, the Department will use new business models that make it easier for small businesses, universities, and the labs to work together as teams.
We are indeed placing a big bet on BIG DATA and we need your ideas.
April 13, 2012
There are a number of opportunities within the Department of Defense for scientists and engineers to utilize and expand their research and engineering skills. Not only do the department's research investments provide the means for the best and brightest of our nation to develop their skills while contributing to ever-expanding research fields, but many individuals who work with the department accomplish great things – both within and outside of DoD. One such individual is Dr. Dan Shechtman, who recently received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of quasicrystals.
Seven years before his remarkable discovery of new physical patterns of crystals, Dr. Shectman worked at the Aerospace Research Laboratory (ARL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. There, he studied the microstructure and physical metallurgy of titanium aluminides for three years as a National Research Council Fellow.
After his Fellowship ended, Dr. Shectman stayed on with the Air Force Materials Laboratory, where he conducted research and taught informal courses in Electron Microscopy for several summers.
Dr. Shectman's success as a researcher and scientist underscores the importance of DoD Basic Research investments and the benefits they yield for scientists and engineers – including providing opportunities for future Nobel Prize winners.
My congratulations to Dr. Schectman on his remarkable achievements!
Information for this piece came from US Air Force Research Laboratory's 10/17/2011 online feature of Dr. Shectman's work.
8th Annual Disruptive
Jan 20, 2012
NRL Autonomous Laboratory
Mar 18, 2012
Placing a Big Bet on BIG DATA
Mar 28, 2012