S&T Notebook: Looking to the Future
This is a regular column by Dr. Scott Fish, Army Chief Scientist, on activities in the Army science and technology (S&T) community and their potential impact on Army acquisition programs.
A lot of exciting and great things have occurred since the last time I reported out to everyone. One of the most significant was the change of duty by LTC Amanda Greig back to the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center and her replacement by COL Lary Chinowsky as my new Military Assistant. COL Chinowsky has hit the ground running and has already represented me at the 19th Annual U.S. Army Research Laboratory/United States Military Academy (ARL/USMA) Science Symposium in Atlantic City, NJ. COL Chinowsky presented the keynote address and engaged in great interaction with both ARL researchers and Cadets who are doing fantastic work in science and technology. I was pleased to hear of the quality of work, the enthusiasm, and vigor that these Cadets showed for research, as they are the Army’s future leaders.
In October, I met with researchers at the Vanderbilt University Institute for Software Integrated Systems who are performing key elements of the META program for the Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The Army is actively participating in this program as a potential future leverage point. DARPA is targeting, along with the U.S. Marine Corps, the demonstration of the overall automated design and fabrication capability for the next amphibious combat vehicle development effort.
The Integrated Sensor Is Structure work involved building the underlying language construct describing components, systems, and fabrication processes that will allow semantic connection of models in a rational way. For example, a transmission model must understand implicitly that it can connect to an engine model and a driveline or load, and then invoke appropriate linkages at the interfaces without user or designer interaction.
Early in November as a follow-on, I traveled to Dassault Systems in Providence, RI, to attend the DARPA Principal Investigator’s meeting and focused on DARPA’s Instant Foundry Adaptive through Bits (iFAB) activity. This part of the AVM program focuses specifically on the framework (compatible with META) for representing appropriate fabrication methods for ground vehicles. Examples would be machining, welding, stamping, and composite materials handling. Capturing these model effects is important both for planning the properties of the finished product or selecting the most desirable fabrication methods, and planning the best layout and sequencing of the fabrication process.
ARL also hosted me in November, along with members of the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development, and Engineering Center Survivability Team, to discuss the latest advancements in our vehicle blast and ballistic protection research and small arms. This dialogue was great for examining both our priorities and our methods for maintaining momentum in the face of changing threats.
As a final note, I spoke on a “Tech Talk” Panel at the Military Reporters & Editors Conference in Arlington, VA, on Nov. 18. I joined Dr. Mark Maybury, U.S. Air Force Chief Scientist; Dr. Walter Jones, Executive Director of the Office of Naval Research; and Mr. Todd Harrison, Senior Fellow for Defense Budget Studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in providing perspectives on what’s new and what’s coming in S&T for our Soldiers. I highlighted four key areas where I expected to see emphasis from the Army in the coming years: Soldier protection, adaptive/resilient systems, advanced training, and ad hoc networks to the warfighting edge. Note was also given to the seven Army S&T challenge problems endorsed by our leadership, which form the basis of Technology Enabled Capability Demonstrations being championed by Dr. Marilyn M. Freeman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology.
The next meeting of the Board on Army Science and Technology is Dec. 5 and 6. It will address the common operating environment. The Army Science Board will hold an Awards Ceremony on Dec. 7 with Ms. Heidi Shyu, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, hosting the event and honoring outgoing Chair Dr. Frank Akers and 14 other members of the board for their outstanding contributions. I want to wish you all a safe holiday season, and remember those who are serving to keep us safe and productive.
Previous S&T Notebook Articles:
Taking the Pulse (1 November 2011)
Exploring Partnerships with Israel (27 September 2011)
Army Chief Scientist to Make Regular Contributions to USAASC Publications (2 September 2011)