Chief Technologist's Corner Archive

October 4, 2012

Tomorrow's Jet Engines: DoD Pioneering Revolutionary Technology

   Zachary Lemnios

Modern turbine engines are designed to operate optimally at a single flight condition, and are sub-optimized at all other operating conditions. For example, a jet engine is the most efficient at cruise, when all of the air that reaches the engine inlet opening actually goes through the engine. During all of the other operating conditions-start, taxi, takeoff, climb to altitude, aerial combat, descend, land, taxi-a large portion of the air spills around the engine face and creates drag, causing in-efficient fuel usage. For the last 40 years, fixed cycle jet turbine engines have delivered continual improvements under these conditions, but until now have not been able to give pilots combined high speed, long range and extended persistence.

In 2004, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force collaborated on the introduction of a new three-stream turbine engine architecture guided by a program named the ADaptive Versatile ENgine Technology, or ADVENT. In 2007, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Propulsion Directorate was given ultimate responsibility for taking the idea from concept and to successfully execute a demonstration program that today, has shown dramatic improvements in turbine engine performance.

The ADVENT program has integrated decades of research in fixed cycle engines with adaptive engine components, high performance military engines, and commercial core fuel efficiency efforts to enable performance and fuel efficiency optimization across a variety of missions and needs. ADVENT's adaptive capabilities are expected to deliver 25 percent improved fuel efficiency (with potential fuel savings up to 1.4B gal of fuel when applied to future combat aircraft (2020-2040)) and revolutionary advances in increased range, persistence, payload, and responsiveness for future generations of military aircraft.

The technologies that differentiate ADVENT are:

  • Active turbine blade tip clearance control that increases fuel efficiency
  • Highly efficient, high-pressure ratio core that increase fuel efficiency
  • Variable airflow / pressure ratio fan that when combined with the third fan stream provides airflow holding capability for installed performance benefits
  • Separate, modulatable (both airflow & pressure ratio) 3-stream engine architecture that allows inlet flow matching for installed performance benefits. The 3-stream architecture lowers air temperature to reduce internal engine material temperatures, extending the engine's life
  • High temperature ceramic composites, metals, and advanced casting methods that allow an engine to operate at high temperatures, enabling high thrust, lightweight combat engines

In leading the program, the AFRL has successfully guided a competitive two phase development effort.

  • In Phase I, preliminary and detailed designs of two unique approaches were completed, and
    multiple risk reduction component rig tests were executed that successfully demonstrated the underlying concept.
  • Phase II started in 2009 with the goal to complete engine core technology demonstrations in 2012 and independent ground engine tests in 2013, achieving a technology readiness level (TRL) of 6*.

The next step to maturing ADVENT engine technology is the Adaptive Engine Technology Development (AETD) program led by the AFRL. The AETD will fully mature fuel-efficient adaptive component technologies for low risk engine developments to support multiple future combat aircraft in the early 2020 timeframe. This will enable propulsion options that provide this nation with a needed revolutionary and game-changing turbine engine technology capability.

* TRL 6 is when a representative model or prototype system is tested in a relevant environment. It represents a major step up in a technology's demonstrated readiness. Examples include testing a prototype in a high-fidelity laboratory environment or in simulated operational environment.


September 17, 2012

DoD Science and Engineering Integrity Instruction

   Zachary Lemnios

In July, the Department issued new instructions for science and integrity (DoD Science and Engineering Integrity Instruction, DoDI 3200.20). The instruction follows President Obama's direction that "Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration on a wide range of issues, including improvement of public health, protection of the environment, increased efficiency in the use of energy and other resources, mitigation of the threat of climate change, and protection of national security."

The instruction establishes policy to support a DoD culture of scientific and engineering integrity. The policy is made up of five major components:

  • Assuring that relevant scientific and engineering information and recommendations are available to DoD policy and acquisition decision makers.
  • Maximizing free flow to the public of scientific and engineering information developed or used by DoD.
  • Assuring that Federal Advisory Committees providing advice to the DoD on scientific, engineering, and other technical matters are technically well qualified and that their recommendations are not subject to political interference.
  • Strengthening actual and perceived credibility of DoD use of scientific and engineering information in decision making.
  • Supporting the professional development of DoD scientists and engineers.

A copy of the instruction can be found here.


August 28, 2012

SMART: A Win-Win for Scholars, Labs and Our Future R&E Missions

   Zachary Lemnios

"Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America's success.” President Obama, 2010 State of the Union

Ensuring that we have the workforce to meet tomorrow's operational and capability needs are a priority indeed for the country. But for the Department of Defense (DoD) our efforts are even more challenging, as we face a perfect storm of realities: a reduced production of graduates in scientific fields that are important to support defense needs, declines in our current workforce due to retirements (sixty percent of the federal workforce eligible to retire by 2018), and competition with industry and academia for the best candidates for both national and international opportunities.

One of my primary imperatives since becoming Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD(R&E)) has been to ensure a pipeline of personnel with appropriate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) qualifications for the DoD. One program that has shown great potential in attracting some of the nation's strongest talent is the Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program. SMART is an opportunity to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers in DoD laboratories by supporting undergraduate and graduate students who are pursuing degrees in STEM disciplines and then offering them positions within the labs upon degree completion.

Since its inception in 2005, the SMART program for undergraduate and graduate students has funded nearly 1,150 scholars and transitioned more than 430 young scientists and engineers into the Department's workforce. Our efforts have involved more than 270 institutions of higher learning and research organizations.

According to Dr. Morley Stone, Chief Scientist of the 711th Human Performance Wing (711 HPW) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, "The SMART program is without a doubt the best program DoD has for recruiting its future science and technology (S&T) workforce." Singled out as the Air Force's SMART Sponsoring Facility of the Year for 2011, the 711 HPW currently sponsors 15 SMART scholars and has 10 SMART graduates in its workforce. "I'm a huge advocate for the SMART scholarship program," continued Stone, "not just because it provides DoD access to some of the brightest students in the nation or the obvious benefit to the students, but also because it's critical to helping the nation address a shortage of scientists and engineers."

Harris Hall, a SMART scholar sponsored by AFRL's Sensors Directorate, is pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder and says that a critical asset for him has been the one-on-one mentorship that separates this scholarship apart from others. "My mentor introduced me to both the various technical facets of my sponsoring organization as well as researchers at AFRL who had interest in supporting my work in microsystems. This guidance provides me not only the necessary feedback in what will be my thesis but will also be critical in navigating my career within the government." The SMART program has also provided Harris "a fantastic array of resources from cleanroom facilities to people, enabling me to accomplish my work."

SMART_image Dr. Jack Harris discusses computational infrastructure of cognitive models being developed by Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) with Dr. Geoffrey Barbier. Both recently completed their doctoral programs through the SMART program and work as scientists in training and continuous learning research at AFRL's 711th Human Performance Wing Human Effectiveness Directorate, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH.  (U.S. Air Force Photo)

Another SMART scholar is Ebone Pierce, currently a junior studying both Physics and Mechanical Engineering at Dillard University in New Orleans. “This past semester, I was able to incorporate many concepts into my thesis/research project that I had learned during my internship. This improved understanding of oceanography, coupled with better understanding and navigating a DoD laboratory, will give me a critical head-start for my first job out of school.” When Ebone graduates in 2014, she will be working at Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO), located at John C. Stennis Space Center, where she has been interning.

SMART scholars receive scholarships, as well as long- and full-term training, internships with stipends, and access to mentors in their future fields.  Meanwhile, DoD’s S&T missions are positively and directly impacted by some of the best and brightest scholars, initially during the scholar’s studies and internship and then again, during the Scholars’ career in the Department of Defense. 

The SMART Scholarship for Service Program is open only to U.S. citizens, 18 years of age or older and eligible to receive and hold a security clearance. The application includes questions about academic background, planned area of study and placement preference.  Applicants are screened by a panel on merit as well as the scholar’s interest in pursuing their studies in areas that match a DoD priority area. To learn more about the SMART program or to apply to the program visit,

The SMART Process and Schedule



August 10, 2012

Patents and DoD Labs: Tech Resources Worth Leveraging

   Zachary Lemnios

Patents and labs are two resources that the Department of Defense (DoD) has available that if leveraged, can help industry and academia's innovation activities. The department's science and technology (S&T) is focused on solving problems specific to our mission with a view to fueling the transition of technology development into products, components of systems, and improvements. The DoD patenting program has approximately 500 new patents that are added annually to our collection of more than 7000 active patents. What underpins the DoD patent portfolio is a robust S&T program that invests over $11 billion annually in future world-class scientific capabilities and emerging technologies. In addition, there are over 100 labs in the department that are enabled to transfer technology within their areas of technology focus. How can industry and academia find out more and take advantage of these resources?

  • DoD TechMatch: TechMatch ( is a database containing DoD's patents that are available for licensing. It supports key word technology searching to assist in finding and using those patents relevant to a specific search interest.
  • DoD TechLink: TechLink ( acts as an intermediary between DoD's labs and industry. For industry, it assists companies in contacting the right people in the DoD labs that originally developed the technology patent. In addition, it assists companies, including small businesses, in identifying and contacting the specific labs in a company's area of technical interests to explore potential research and development collaboration opportunities. Finally, the site also helps labs identify companies that are good prospects for potential collaborative R&D opportunities and patent licensing.

DoD depends on industry to transition technologies from product development and manufacturing into solutions that help our warriors do their important missions. Industry and academia: these are tech resources worth leveraging.


July 26, 2012

DoD’s MURI Program: Establishing Frontiers in Science and Links with Industry

   Zachary Lemnios

For the past 25 years, the Department of Defense's Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program has funded prominent scientists focused on pushing the frontiers in emerging areas of science. Over these years, the MURI program has demonstrated a track record of major scientific advancements and breakthroughs and has proven to be an excellent source for future military and technological capabilities.

Every year, ASD(R&E) and the three services engage in a multistep process with government and external experts to identify and develop topics which are ripe for multi-disciplinary advances in the scientific field. Teams of scientists from different institutions and communities coalesce around a certain project to push the science forward. This multi-disciplinary approach provides opportunities to open up new areas that are unconstrained by traditional boundaries and disciplinary stovepipes.

To help transition some of these ideas as they evolve from MURI research, the department has begun to invite defense industrial base associations and their member firms to participate in the annual MURI reviews. The goal of this activity is strategic: cementing partnerships early between the universities' researchers who create the new concepts with the industrial developers who have the capacity to mature these concepts into future capabilities for the department.

Learn more about MURIs and the current topics:

As a result of past MURIs we now have Laser Frequency Combs, Dip Pen Nanolithography, and Self-Assembled Monolayer providing the department important potential capabilities. What will be tomorrow's technological surprise? Come to the next MURI review August 8-10 in Arlington, Virginia, to find out.


June 29, 2012

Our Secret Ingredient: Innovation

   Zachary Lemnios

The Department of Defense is using a magic ingredient to develop new concepts for national defense. Innovation.

We see the results of innovation when we assemble a creative team with the right mix of technical skills, imagination, acceptance of risk and the challenge to be first. Innovation is often preceded by discovery and followed by disciplined engineering. We know it when we see it and we aspire to have more of it.

We call upon innovation to bring us new ideas, change the way we approach a challenge and deliver new capabilities in remarkably short time. Quite simply, innovation is that special sauce that has accelerated the delivery of new concepts from decades to months and is as critical to our nation.

The Department of Defense has a rich legacy of seeding early stage innovation that has resulted in remarkable new capabilities that not only supported national security, but has also had a fundamental impact on society.

Today's environment is different and we are strategically re-shaping the Department's research and engineering enterprise to adapt to new realities in national security, global research and development, fiscal realities, and talent.

We need the best and the brightest and need to deliver new capabilities at the same tempo as we see in commercial markets.

To accelerate innovation, the department is:

The Department has made considerable progress in responding to new realities of the operational environment and the strategic guidance of the Department of Defense, and will continue to direct the defense science and technology enterprise toward changes that will deliver innovative capabilities to support the defense needs of the future.

From my vantage point, the DoD S&T enterprise' future as an innovation engine looks bright.
Read my entire keynote speech that was given on June 20, 2012 at a local Innovation Summit.


May 31, 2012

The Department's S&T Cyber Investments

   Zachary Lemnios

Last year the Department issued its Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace, identifying cyberspace as an operational domain, and a critical element to enable business operations, military operations, and the command and control backbone for the Department of Defense.
The department's cyber security responsibilities and challenges are complex.   The responsibilities extend beyond our enterprise systems – the 15,000 networks and seven million computing devices across hundreds of installations in dozens of countries around the globe; used for business operations, to include the mission-critical command and control networks, our cyber-physical systems and our cyber-radio frequency systems that make up the department's tactical systems.
The emergence of networked tactical systems and cyber-physical systems has created new opportunities for increased cyber security attack and disruption.  In mid-2009, we assembled technology leaders from across government, industry, and academia to provide their insight into the fundamental challenges faced by the department and the technical approaches to face these threats. We have followed through on their insight and focused our cyber investments in four key areas:  

  1. Mission Assurance
  2. Resilient Infrastructure
  3. Agile Operations
  4. Foundations of Trust

Over the past year I have added an additional area - a cyber measurement campaign.  We realize the importance of ensuring the taxpayer dollars are invested wisely and efficiently, and  have the appropriate forums in place to ensure cyber security research is well coordinated among DoD organizations, and with other federal agencies. 

But the key to the success of all our cyber security efforts is the talent - the workforce we have today in our labs, in academia, and industry, and the workforce of tomorrow.   There a number of programs underway to advance our cyber research and development workforce, and these, as well as other department initiatives, are detailed in my recent testimony on Cybersecurity Research and Development to the Senate Armed Services Emerging Threats Committee.


May 15, 2012

Basic Research: Today's Scientific Discoveries Provide the Foundation for Tomorrow's Capabilities

   Zachary Lemnios

To assure long-term technological superiority in fields that affect our national security, the U.S. needs to continue to maintain high levels of investment and efficiency in the performance of basic research.  I'm pleased to report that amidst the cuts in many Department of Defense accounts, the Secretary of Defense's support for Basic Research remains strong.  The President's budget request of $2.1 billion in FY13 demonstrates a commitment to a strong basic research program and represents a 17.8 percent growth in basic research funds since FY2009. 
Strong support for basic research has led to some world-class scientific breakthroughs in the past year.  Examples include:

An Air Force-sponsored research program at Harvard University that succeeded in coaxing ultracold atoms trapped in an optical lattice to self-organize into a magnet – the first demonstration of such a “quantum magnet.”  This discovery opens new possibilities for quantum engineering of novel materials (e.g., high-temperature semiconductors).

Scientists at the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland who, along with the support of the Army Research Office and the Office of Naval Research, discovered and demonstrated methods for creating the first functional atom-based circuit.  A crucial milestone in the development of the field of “atomtronics,” the Department envisions capabilities that include ultra-accurate gyroscopes or ultra-secure quantum encryption in future systems.

A DARPA – sponsored research project at Cornell University that demonstrated for the first time the temporal cloaking of an object.  This is done by manipulating and controlling electromagnetic fields so that a “time hole” is created that obscures an object during a well-defined time interval.

Basic Research that is oriented toward issues of defense science and technology paves the way for the technological future.  Learn more about the Department's Basic Research efforts here.


May 4, 2012

Managing Technology Risks with Program Protection Planning

   Zachary Lemnios

In critical moments, will our systems perform only as designed and as the operators intend? The globalization of technology and supply chains has increased the risks to our systems, including the foreign collection of data, design vulnerability or supply chain exploitation/insertion, and battle field loss.

Program protection planning is an integrative process for managing these technology risks, and one that USD(AT&L) recently designated as an "expected business practice" for the Department of Defense. A Program Protection Plan (PPP) is a comprehensive plan for a program's security throughout the technology's life. The three key steps in a PPP are:

Step one – Identify Components that need Protection: Information to be protected is not limited to classified information. It also includes unclassified information that might be damaging when combined with other information that could allow an adversary to clone, counter, or defeat warfighting capabilities.

Step Two – Implement Measures to Protect the Identified Components: The implementation of security measures, such as Supply Chain Risk Mitigation, Anti-Tamper, Security, Counterintelligence, Intelligence, System Security Engineering, Countering-Counterfeits, and Information Assurance processes, should be coordinated and assessed during periodic program reviews.

Step Three – A Clear and Logical Approach: Present the PPP in an easily comprehensible way so that all members involved in the development of a system or program know how to manage security issues.

Once a PPP is developed, it should serve as a reference for understanding and managing the full spectrum of program and system security activities throughout the acquisition lifecycle. The PPP Outline & Guidance is available on the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering's website.




Naval Research Laboratory Office of Naval Research U.S. Air Force DARPA Force Health Protection & Readiness DTRA ASD(R&E) Army Research Laboratory Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions, Logistics and Technology