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Requirements Fair Seeks to Expand the Reach of NPS Studies Program

Article By: Kenneth A. Stewart

Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) students, faculty and staff recently came together to participate in a first-of-its-kind, research requirement fair at venues scattered across the NPS campus in Monterey.  

Students and faculty met with Navy and Marine Corps representatives from across the fleet who shared their respective research requirements in an effort to match Navy and Marine Corps research needs with NPS student researchers.

“The NPS Program Office has collected over 280 research topics and nearly 60 faculty members have forwarded intents to perform research in at least one of those topics,” said Associate Professor and NPS Studies Program Director, retired Army Col. Andy Hernandez.

Research needs varied in scope, time frame, and diversity of topic, some of which were short-term projects ideal for students seeking to make a direct, near-term impact on their respective services.

“The fair is an essential element in the success of the NPS Studies Program as envisioned by the Secretary of the Navy … In our current environment, research must be requirements driven,” said Hernandez. “The fair serves as a forum for Navy and Marine Corps sponsors to directly communicate their research or analysis needs and to initiate critical dialogue between researchers and issue owners.

“The NPS Studies Program is one of the ways that the Secretary of the Navy is entrusting NPS’ research capabilities as an investment that will reap great returns,” Hernandez added.

The fair kicked off in NPS’ King Auditorium and was followed by presentations from potential sponsors on a far-reaching slew of topics important to current naval operations. Presentations were followed by one-on-one meetings between students and sponsors.

 Associate Professor and NPS Studies Program Director retired Army Col. Andy Hernandez speaks with students during a session of the inaugural Research Requirements Fair. Hernandez is working to partner NPS students with sponsors throughout the fleet to solve, short-term research and analysis problems with direct impact on current Navy operations.

Fair organizers also provided a venue for NPS faculty members to turn the fair concept upside down and showcase on-going NPS research to Navy and Marine Corps needs-owners.  

“It was a means to educate potential sponsors about NPS capabilities.  A team of NPS experts in varying research fields held a panel discussion on cross-campus initiatives,” said Hernandez.

Forum presenters focused on cyber and data science, littoral operations and design thinking to name a few … All high-growth areas where NPS faculty continue to make significant contributions.

Distinguished Professor Dorothy Denning with the NPS Department of Defense Analysis described her efforts in one of these trending disciplines.

“The NPS vision is to be a national resource for the study and design of secure and resilient cyber systems, and into the conduct of cyber operations in the defense arena. We aim to prepare highly-competent personnel for deeply technical operations,” said Denning.  

Denning was joined by her husband Peter, and by other leading faculty members including NPS Professors John Arquilla and Cynthia Irvine, both leaders in their respective fields, in discussions on ‘big data’ and data science. But the real focus of the enterprise was on the students.

Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) professor Gurminder Singh has been working with U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Ryan Barnes, right, and Capt. Buck Bradley, left, on a NPS Studies Program designed to create a handheld application that the USMC Installation and Logistics Command hopes will simplify and facilitate the sending of mission critical reports under stressful conditions. 

Marine Corps Maj. Ryan Barnes and Capt. Buck Bradley, for example, were two of the program’s earliest participants, and their work exemplifies the sort of short-term studies in emerging technologies that the program was designed to facilitate. They are working to create a hand-held application that the USMC Installation and Logistics Command hopes will simplify and facilitate the sending of mission critical reports under stressful conditions.

“I often tell people that this is something I wish I had,” said Barnes. “[When I was deployed] I had my cheat sheets in hand for doing everything from submitting IED reports to making medical evacuation requests. Our application takes all of the remembering out of the question.”

“We went with CASEVAC [casualty evacuation reporting] because calling in a CASEVAC is going to be stressful and you need an accurate report to get a bird off the ground,” said Bradley.

NPS professor Gurminder Singh has been working with Barnes and Bradley on the project. He is a systems mobility expert and the former CEO of an early technology company that broke-ground in areas related to Barnes and Bradley’s work.

“It's a fairly simple concept, but it didn’t get simple without giving serious thought to the problem,” Singh continued.

“Support for mobility in austere environments is critically important for our military. When you are separated from your support infrastructure and lack resources, but need to stay in touch with your team members, you have to find new ways of exploiting hand-held technology,” said Singh.  

Logistics Operations Analysis Division Director, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Dan Reber with the USMC Installation and Logistics Command, is sponsoring the project.

“Coming out to NPS and receiving a demonstration really showed me the utility of the applications,” said Reber. “When a Lance Cpl. with very little training needs to send a 9-line [medical evacuation request] under very stressful conditions, he needs to be able to do it accurately.

“Having seen the potential of the application, we are going to continue to pursue the project,” continued Reber. “Professor Singh is now helping us to pursue encryption and security solutions for the application.”

In an apparent vote of confidence, The Humanitarian: Science, Systems and Global Impact 2014 conference recently accepted an academic paper based on the application that was authored by Barnes and Bradley.

If the conference and sponsors’ confidence in the project is any indicator, Barnes and Bradley are likely to be very busy in the future. While their application is one of many NPS Studies Program projects, it is indicative of how NPS’ unique student body is able to combine operational expertise and defense focused research to the betterment of the Navy.

Posted March 27, 2014

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