ARL's Atmospheric Science Center opens its doors to Open Campus opportunities

August 06, 2015

By Jenna Brady, ARL Public Affairs

Story Highlights

  • ARL recently hosted a successful Atmospheric Science Center workshop at the lab's White Sands Missile Range facility in New Mexico.
  • The Atmospheric Science Center, part of ARL's Open Campus initiative, was created to bring together government, industry, and academia for the mission of advancing atmospheric science and its application to critical defense technologies through a collaborative, innovative research "ecosystem."

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory recently hosted a successful Atmospheric Science Center workshop at the lab's White Sands Missile Range facility in New Mexico. Thirty guests representing 10 universities, seven government agencies, and three private industry partners—including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New Mexico State University, and the University of Texas at El Paso—attended the event along with employees from ARL's Battlefield Environment Division.

The Atmospheric Science Center was created to bring together government, industry, and academia for the mission of advancing atmospheric science and its application to critical defense technologies through a collaborative, innovative research "ecosystem."

The center supports ARL's overarching Open Campus initiative: a collaborative endeavor with the goal of building a science and technology community of interest that will encourage groundbreaking advances in basic and applied scientific research of relevance to the Army.

"Bringing Open Campus opportunities to the Atmospheric Science Center enables the Battlefield Environment Division to have a virtual platform for industry, academia, and other government labs—a research triad—to work together to solve the Army's atmospheric-science problems," said Dr. Robb Randall, lead of the Atmospheric Science Center.

"In this fiscally constrained environment, this model promotes an efficient, effective, and agile research system for communication and innovation. Those outside of ARL will start to understand the Army's concerns at a deeper level and will have an opportunity to be involved in solving those problems," added Randall.

The primary focus of the workshop was the Meteorological Sensor Array, or MSA, that is currently being implemented within and near WSMR to help solve the significant, atmospheric-community-wide research gap involved in providing military units with the most accurate weather information in complex mountainous and urban environments.

The breakout sessions held throughout the workshop and the insights gained from overviews of the attendees' research efforts provided great takeaways that will prove to be invaluable as the MSA transitions to the operational phase.

According to Randall, the interest in collaboration witnessed at the workshop was overwhelming, and some of the attendees of the workshop will likely become the core of an external "red team" advisory group to help ensure quality MSA operations and products far in to the future.

"Here at the Atmospheric Science Center, I can see a time where we truly have a collaborative and innovative research ecosystem where the community is focused on characterization, dynamics, propagation, and modeling the atmospheric boundary layer to meet the Army's requirements," Randall stated.

"Because we are doing it together, we will create better science—transformative science, which is something that is not possible within each individual leg of the triad," added Randall.

Looking to the near future, Randall said that not only will the Atmospheric Science Center be an entity that helps educate leaders on the critical importance of a comprehensive knowledge of atmospheric processes, but it will be a great asset in delivering the best possible atmospheric information to Soldiers that is crucial to their missions.

"Numerous workshop attendees commented on the diversity and level of research expertise that was in attendance. This helps the Army and the Soldier by having the country's top scientists coming together to solve atmospheric challenges, challenges that can be mitigated to create safer battlespace for the warfighter and that can be exploited to enhance Army dominance over adversaries," said Randall.

While there are not currently any Open Campus personnel working internally at the center, Randall says that ARL is working with WSMR leadership to bring in visiting scientists and multiple interns within the next year in support of Atmospheric Science Center research and the Open Campus initiative.

 

Last Update / Reviewed: August 6, 2015