ARLINGTON, Va.—Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, the chief of naval research, told a packed house at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) science and technology (S&T) conference this week that he intends to bring officials from the Navy, Marine Corps, industry and academia together on a quarterly basis, starting in 2013, to accelerate S&T efforts for the warfighter.
"We do this conference every two years, which is phenomenal and very valuable—and probably not enough," said Klunder at the 2012 ONR Naval S&T Partnership Conference and ASNE Expo. "We're going to start providing a more helpful regular drumbeat. Every quarter, ONR is going to have a focused working forum with our industry and academic partners."
Klunder stressed the new meetings will be informal, intended to share ideas and concerns within the naval S&T community. "This will not be a conference," he said. "I'm talking bagels and coffee, and a few hours of shared time. Just a functional forum."
He emphasized the importance of collaboration in the successful development of new naval technologies, and their transition to the warfighter. The conference where he announced the new approach is itself a biennial event bringing together top military, scientific, industry and academic experts in matters related to science and technology and defense.
More than 1,500 stakeholders attended the event this year.
Klunder's keynote delivered an overview of ONR's missions and challenges, with updates on the focus areas of the Navy's S&T Strategic Plan. Those areas include: autonomy and unmanned systems; assured access to maritime battlespace; information dominance; platform design and survivability; power and energy; strike and integrated defense; warfighter performance; total ownership cost; and expeditionary and irregular warfare.
"We do look at developing leap-ahead, very cutting-edge opportunities, technologies that are 10-plus years away," he said. "But we're also looking at technology opportunities that will be complete in the next year or two, or three-to-five years."
In both cases, he said, the warfighter, and the taxpayer, will be best served by innovative, collaborative solutions from partnerships, drawing on strengths from industry, academia and the Navy and Marine Corps.
The need for successful S&T solutions is particularly acute in the context of global developments, he said, listing problems from proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorist elements to climate change and budget pressures.
As the Department of the Navy's science, engineering, mathematics and technology (STEM) executive, Klunder closed his address by encouraging efforts to increase participation by young people in the fields of STEM—with the goal of nurturing future scientists.
"I implore you," he told the audience, "do not let a child come home from school and say that math or science isn't cool—we owe it to our nation's future."
ONR is the Navy's lead organization for STEM outreach.
ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 30 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and more than 900 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,065 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.
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