Army Research Laboratory seeks strong partnerships at open house event

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Oct. 18, 2017) - The U.S. Army Research Laboratory kicked off a two-day open house by hosting more than 300 representatives from industry and academia to foster future partnerships.

"This is bringing the whole community together," said ARL Director Dr. Philip Perconti. "Working together we can solve like-minded problems."

The Open Campus initiative is a business model for building an integrated work environment with academia, industry and government, by fueling innovation through joint research and development.

This is the fourth year the laboratory has opened its doors to potential research partners with its Open Campus Open House.

ARL officials said the approach has led to a streamlined process for developing Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, or CRADAs, the business framework for creating partnerships with the federal government.

ARL has facilities across the nation. In recent years the laboratory has expanded its reach by establishing satellite locations in California and Texas. The Army's corporate laboratory also has a presence in Orlando, Florida; White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico; Research Triangle Park in North Carolina and two sites in Maryland.

Perconti said the laboratory's facilities at APG are important because everything in the life-cycle of an Army system can be found on the installation.

"Everything from basic research to engineering to acquisition to sustainment to testing...all resides here at APG," Perconti said.

The organizations at the installation provides a framework for innovation for the Army, he said.

"ARL has taken on the initiative of spreading Open Campus facilities throughout the United States," said Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command commanding general. "It's important to bring that talent together to collaborate because it allows us to work on things and to take on challenges that are bigger than ourselves."

Wins said the Open Campus initiative allows Army researchers to be successful in their endeavors.

An official from the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command gave the keynote address Oct. 18 at the APG's Mallette Training Facility. Rickey E. Smith, Army Capabilities Integration Center Senior Professional for Capabilities Development, told the audience the Army needs partners in technology to modernize, but that there may be a cultural issue with the adoption of robotics.

"I like to turn to my Infantry friends and say, 'Hey your survival and protection depends on that robotic wingman over there.' They're not too comfortable with that," Smith said. "But if you say I'll bring your bullets. I'll bring your food. They're okay with that. So maybe the way we get to the cultural divide is through the sustainment side as opposed to the maneuver side."

Robotics is just one area researchers are exploring. The laboratory has nine essential research areas, which covered a broad spectrum of future technology challenges, including Human Agent Teaming; Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; Cyber and Electromagnetic Technologies for Complex Environments; Distributed and Cooperative Engagement in Contested Environments; Tactical Unit Energy Independence; Manipulating Physics of Failure for Robust Performance of Materials; Science for Manufacturing at the Point of Need; Accelerated Learning for a Ready and Responsive Force; and Discovery.

During the open house, visitors will participate in panel discussions and receive technical briefings and most importantly interact with Army researchers, Perconti said.

"The right opportunity for collaborators is what we're trying to establish," he said. "It all starts with proximity. This is really key. It's proximity that I think breeds trust. It's trust that breeds true partnership. It's true partnership that leads to true collaboration."

U.S. Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr., is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Oct. 19 open house session.

Did you know?

The Computer

The Ballistics Research Laboratory, a predecessor organization to ARL, invented and developed the first multipurpose, electronic, programmable computer in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania Moore School of Engineering. The ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Calculator) was developed at the end of WWII originally to speed the calculation of artillery firing tables, but it became the progenitor of all the computers that we use today, from mainframes to laptops.