ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Leaders and representatives from the U.S. Army's Science and Technology community promoted the Army's realignment of modernization priorities with the nation's manufacturing industrial base at this year's Defense Manufacturing Conference, held Dec. 3-6, 2018. As the nation's largest annual forum for defense manufacturing, the DMC united business and technology leaders, policy makers, managers, scientists and engineers from government, industry and academia to share information on manufacturing initiatives.

David Fellowes and Russell Draper, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Communications-Electronics Center Night Vision and Electronics Sensors Directorate, received a Defense Manufacturing Technology Achievement Award, "Enhancing Military Capability," for their work on Organic Light Emitting Diode Microdisplays. Their project matured manufacturing processes required to produce advanced technology for head-worn displays that provide situational awareness for Soldiers.

The theme of this year's conference was "Manufacturing Innovation for the Warfighter," and Army leaders and representatives shared their perspectives on innovation and provided presentations on recent Army manufacturing technologies. Keynote topics emphasized the Army's modernization priorities and how the Army's Manufacturing Technology program, which is managed by RDECOM, is developing and transitioning technology to support the modernization effort.

More than 165 exhibitors showcased government and industry manufacturing initiatives; the Army booth highlighted the modernization priorities and featured items manufactured using additive manufacturing. Also on display were newly developed MetaFerrite materials used to manufacture low profile antennas. MetaFerrite materials are also used to manufacture ultra-wide-band scanning apertures and radar, which reduces the visible profile and improves aerodynamics.

Director for Integration, Assistant Sectary of the Army Acquisition, Logistics, Technology, and recently appointed chair of the Joint Defense Manufacturing Technology Panel, Julie Locker, shared perspectives on the future direction of the JDMTP and the Army ManTech program.

Also featured at this year's conference was Dr. Thomas Russell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Research and Technology and Army Chief Scientist. Dr. Russell, along with Maj. Gen. William Cooley, Commander, Air Force Research Laboratory and Dr. David Walker, Research and Development Portfolio Director, Office of Naval Research shared their perspectives on S&T strategy.

"When I think about the future from a manufacturing perspective, I see the integration of data using analytics, information sciences, high performance computing and AI to solve manufacturing problems. We have to solve problems rather than just trying to meet requirements in order to provide more flexibility and innovation. This is enabled by open systems architecture," Dr. Russell said.

The Army ManTech program office held an outreach session, which began with a brief overview by Locker on the Army ManTech program strategy. Army ManTech subject matter experts from more than eight Army R&D organizations provided one-on-one meetings between industry representatives and government technical leads on industry capabilities that meet the Army's modernization priorities.

The Army manufacturing technology community was well represented at this year's conference. The Army supported four leadership discussion panels on DOD manufacturing, chaired or co-chaired eight technical manufacturing sessions and provided 15 presentations related to innovations in defense manufacturing.
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The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities for decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint Warfighter and the Nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.