By bringing together military service officers and engineering and science researchers in a pilot program this summer, the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will take a first step toward developing a new method for revolutionizing future defense technologies—a method based on the interaction of people who normally work from different agendas and perspectives.
“The Clark School, by virtue of its proximity to and close relations with major federal agencies, is well prepared to assist DARPA in establishing a new basis for creating the advanced technologies our armed services will need in the future,” states Clark School Dean Darryll Pines, whose office will administer the pilot program. “We are building a new way for military and academic personnel to interact that will challenge both and derive innovations neither would achieve by working alone.”
The pilot program will support four postdoctoral researchers as DARPA Academic Fellows. They will spend three months full-time at DARPA interacting with their counterparts from the military, called DARPA Service Chief Fellows, as well as with DARPA program managers; they will also visit with current DARPA technology performers (academic and industrial labs). Through this process they will work with military officers to conduct a limited and focused research project with specific deliverables; form professional relationships with those officers and learn about their perspectives and needs; gain an understanding of DARPA technology development efforts and impending changes; and become “ambassadors” who can return to their campuses with in-depth knowledge of DARPA projects and requirements and in the future return to DARPA to serve as program managers.
The Clark School will administer the program in collaboration with DARPA and regional universities. Each participating academic fellow must have earned a doctoral degree in science or engineering or a closely related field, be a U.S. citizen, and be clearable to “secret” level.
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