BURLINGTON, Mass. -- Universities and industry in the Northeast region joined ranks with the U.S. Army in a science and technology endeavor that officials hope will make tomorrow's Soldiers stronger and safer.
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, with its main laboratories in Maryland, has recently established regional presences in California, Texas and Illinois. Now, ARL Northeast is opening its doors at the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security at Northeastern University near Boston.
"We work on a wide range of homeland and national security issues from cyber at the tactical edge to advanced materials research and manufacturing to development of state-of-the art mobile command posts," said Dr. David Luzzi, chairman of the board of the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security, as well as a vice president and vice provost at Northeastern University.
Government officials, including the Massachusetts congressional delegation and the commonwealth's governor, welcomed the Army Research Lab to the region.
"It's also exciting, not only for the work done here by the Army Research Lab, but also for our nation's network of universities, university researchers and the innovative work they do," said U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the senior senator from Massachusetts. "It is this collaboration between universities and our Defense Department and our private industry that really makes us strong and gives us a competitive advantage going forward."
Warren said she stands by the new partnership.
"You can't do this kind of work unless you have the resources," Warren said. "Our team is committed to getting the resources from Washington here to Massachusetts and into these projects."
Four years ago, the Army Research Laboratory started to extend its presence across the nation so it could tap into regional talent in science and technology.
"This is the last in our expansion," said ARL Director Dr. Philip Perconti. "Now, this ecosystem will bring together all the partners who have access to each other's people, institutions, facilities and eventually finances."
The laboratory has embraced the Open Campus concept because proximity is the path to research success, Perconti said.
"We want to start with ideas and then we want to become friends," he said. "We want to develop trust by proximity to get to know one another."
Perconti said the laboratory looks forward to continuing and growing many historic collaborations with a wide range of regional partners that will make up the new ARL Northeast:
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Army Institute of Soldier Nanotechnologies at MIT
• The University of Massachusetts System (Boston, Dartmouth, Amherst, Lowell)
• Worcester Polytechnic Institute
• Harvard, Yale, Boston University, Cornell and many other world-class academic institutions
• U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center and the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, or DIUx
• Federally funded research and development centers such as MIT Lincoln Lab and non-profits like Draper Lab
• Entrepreneurship and start-up sector (such as MassTech Collaborative, Mass Robotics and Mass Innovation Bridge)
• Industry partners such as Mass High Tech Council and several companies including Raytheon, Lockheed, General Dynamics, Rogers Corp. and Kratos Defense
"Today's most forward looking government laboratories, corporations and research universities recognize that going alone does not get the job done anymore," Luzzi said. "It is partnerships that are critical. And if you're going to move things from technology in the research lab to application, these partnerships become essential."
"We realize now that we have an enormous responsibility," said Northeastern University President Dr. Joseph E. Aoun. "This responsibility is to be a convener. To bring the best and brightest from the universities, from Hanscom [Air Force Base], from Natick [Soldier Systems Center] and from industry to work together to make this nation evermore secure and to make this nation number one in the world."
The Rogers Corporation has collaborated with Northeastern for several years.
"The fruits of this collaboration are beginning to be introduced to market and show great promise in providing game-changing performance for our customers," said Rogers Corporation Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Robert Daigle. "We're very pleased to see the Army Research Lab embrace this collaborative model."
The commanding general of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, said his command is actively seeking out collaborative efforts.
"The Army needs these partnerships because as our Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has said, 'The character of war is changing.' The pace and spread of technological change has a lot to do with it."
Wins said America's adversaries are just as focused on wiping out any advantage that may be developed.
"These challenges are what prompted the Army to begin to make the biggest change in 40 years with the announcement of the Army Futures Command on how it tackles with issues in regards to modernization," Wins said.
The governor of Massachusetts said the Army has come to right region for science and technology.
"If you take a look at the arc of all the work that's been done, which has been spoken about already, on the next generation of supporting warfighters in our military and our national security, nobody plays out of their weight class the way Massachusetts does," said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. "It's a real tribute to the people who are part of this community that over and over again, the best and biggest ideas come from here."
The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.