ADELPHI, Md. (Dec. 15, 2014) -- The Army opened its doors to a new era of collaboration between its scientists and their peers in industry, academia and other government agencies, which officials said will keep the nation's joint warfighting team on the cutting edge of technology.
A capacity crowd of about 600 researchers, industry representatives and government officials attended a two-day open house on the Open Campus initiative Dec. 9-10 by the Army Research Laboratory, an element of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. Hundreds more attended via live video streaming.
The ARL Open Campus is bringing together academia, industry, small businesses and government for research and development collaboration inside the Army's top R&D facilities. Scientists and engineers will pursue seven areas of interest fundamental to meeting the Army's goals for Force 2025 and beyond: computational sciences, material sciences, information sciences, human sciences, sciences for maneuver, sciences for lethality and protection, and assessment and analysis.
This new paradigm is needed to meet the challenges faced by the Army and Department of Defense, said Maj. Gen. John F. Wharton, RDECOM commanding general.
"Open Campus takes the best of our scientists and researchers and the best from industry, academia, small business and government working with us to ensure we are at the cutting of technology," Wharton said. "That's necessary because our nation must stay ahead of the increasingly sophisticated security threats we face around the world. The science that is key to maintaining our technological leadership is done at ARL."
ARL Director Dr. Thomas Russell explained that the initiative means more than letting outside researchers into parts of the Army's formerly closed labs.
"Only by providing a dynamic and nourishing environment for industry, academia and our international partners to engage with Army scientists here at ARL can we more effectively identify research efforts that may solve some of these deeper challenges," Russell said.
"In the past, effective collaboration with industry and academia has proved to be enormously beneficial to the DoD. This open campus model is an opportunity to follow these prior examples and to truly develop next-generation technologies."
Open Campus will accommodate both U.S. citizens and foreign national researchers who come to ARL to collaborate in research areas of mutual interest. ARL will introduce restricted, unescorted access of foreign national collaborators in designated areas using a phased approach, expanding as the initiative grows.
ARL recently became the first federal partner to join the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development's Invest Maryland Challenge program to support start-up companies by awarding local businesses Integrata and Graftworx a year's incubator laboratory space. In addition to collaborative engagement in existing ARL facilities, future phases of ARL's Open Campus will include opportunities for partners to establish new on-site facilities.
Army technologies developed by past collaboration have been passed to industry and formed the basis for many products enjoyed by Americans today. The Open Campus holds that promise as well, Wharton said.
"My job is to make sure we maintain the decisive advantage for our Army and the Department of Defense into the future. But it's not only the Department of Defense that benefits," Wharton said. "We supply the nation those enabling technologies. I'm expecting a lot of good things to come out of this Open Campus initiative and how we and our partners will contribute to the joint force, and also to the nation."
Others praising the concept during the opening ceremony were keynote speakers U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland; Dr. Patricia Falcone, associate director for National Security and International Affairs at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and Gabe Camarillo, the principal deputy to Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition, Logistics and Technology.
The Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.