On September 29, members of the executive team from The U. S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) — the Army’s corporate research laboratory — came to the UTSA campus, a visit facilitated by UT System Office of Federal Relations.
“ARL is pursuing discoveries, innovations, and transition of technological developments that are geared towards acting upon opportunities in power projection, information, lethality and protection, and Soldier performance.”
ARL is focused on the following strategic research areas:
- Extramural Basic Research
- Computational Sciences
- Materials Research
- Sciences-for-Lethality and Protection
- Human Sciences
- Assessment and Analysis
As part of their daylong visit, Dr. Thomas Russell, executive director of the ARL, gave a public presentation on ways UTSA and ARL can work together to further research and innovation. Dr. Russell is a rare individual who has worked for all three branches of the Armed Forces: first with the Navy, then the Air Force and now the Army.
The Armed Forces Laboratories were established in 1923 by Thomas Edison. With a workforce of 2,980 staff members, the ARL is highly trained and educated: 42% have been awarded a doctorate; 34% have a master’s and 24% graduated with a bachelor’s degree. The Armed Forces with the Department of Defense is the largest employer in the government, bigger than the NIH or the NSF.
It’s an interesting time for the Army. The decisions for 2025 are 85% completed. The acquisition programs are underway and equipment is already being purchased. At this juncture, they are now considering the concept of the “Deep Future”: where are we going to be in 2040. The Army is asking us to think about how do we innovate the future, and how do we set strategic direction?
The Army is looking for solutions to a myriad of challenges, and for innovation in these selected areas:
- Intelligence systems & autonomy; how we do we get a machine to understand strategic intent?
- Human-machine interface in real-time
- Heads up display for soldiers
- Human performance in real-time
- Cyber research e.g. ARL has unclassified real-time data available for cyber research
- UV communications
- Weather models
- Batteries material research
Open Campus Initiative
ARL’s Open Campus initiative is opening up select segments of the lab’s extended campus to American and international researchers for collaboration in research areas of mutual interest. They want to increase public involvement while highlighting the value of defense science, technology and exploration. They also want to invest and share strategically in labor, facilities and technical infrastructure across government, industry and academia.
The Army is evolving. As industry looks to academia to support increased research, how do we, UTSA, engage with ARL? There is a lack of understanding as to how academia and industry can work with the Army Lab. They are not a funding agency; ARL staff must write grant applications to fund in-house work and outside collaborations.
However, partnerships can facilitate the sharing of knowledge, infrastructure and funding. At this time, ARL has over two hundred CRADA agreements: 100 with academic institutions and 100 with industries. There are two ways to engage and have the opportunity for collaboration: (1) find funding together, and/or (2) grow capabilities together.
Examples of Collaboration:
- Place ARL staff on campus to work on short or long-term projects
- Reverse model would apply: academics could work at ARL for a summer on a specialized project
- ARL can offer letters of support for grant applications whether for shared resources, facilities, materials, staffing and/or research
- ARL works with almost every periodic element and their facilities have the highest level of clearance. E.g. “red” clean rooms. Academics can apply to access these resources.
To spark collaboration, the UTSA VPR Office for Research Support matched UTSA faculty with ARL representatives for three roundtable discussion groups:
(1) Information, Computational Sciences; Sciences of Maneuver, & for Lethality and Protection
(2) Material Research and Additive Manufacturing, and
(3) Human Sciences.
We will monitor the outcomes of these discussions. If you wish to get involved, please contact Jaclyn Shaw, Assistant Director for Faculty Development, Office of Research Support, UTSA Research.
Wish to see the ARL Campus? ARL is having an Open House on November 3, in Adelphi, MD.
To register: http://www.arl.army.mil/opencampus/?q=ARLOpenCampus2015
~ by Sarah Hada, Communications Coordinator, UTSA Research