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Annual TechCon Examines Government, Industry Partnerships

NPS President retired Vice Adm. Ann Rondeau welcomes attendees to the 2019 CRUSER Technical Continuum, or TechCon, April 17. This year’s event offered individual, in-depth panel discussions that provided insight into the diverse perspectives on partnerships between DOD, industry and academia.

The Naval Postgraduate School’s Consortium for Robotics and Unmanned Systems Education and Research (CRUSER) held its eighth annual Technical Continuum (TechCon), allowing the greater robotics and unmanned systems community to examine how NPS researchers can partner with private industry to foster innovation at NPS.

Held in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Auditorium, April 17, the event was inspired by Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer’s direction to help drive innovation by partnering with industry. CRUSER shaped the event to focus on the different perspectives involved with partnerships between DOD, industry and academia, and provided a forum for the diverse attendees to connect on research topics of mutual interest.

“This year our focus on engaging with industry is really a complement to everything that is going on campus,” said Dr. Brian Bingham, Director of CRUSER and host of TechCon. “Since NPS is situated half in the DOD and half in academia, CRUSER in particular can be very agile and able to respond and deliver on the goals that leadership present. Many of our colleagues and external NPS partners connected at this event show that NPS is able to create forums for exchanges of ideas between academia, the DOD and industry.”

The continuum’s three panels included subject matter experts discussing partnerships from the perspectives of both the government and industry entrepreneurs, as well as a panel focused on how NPS has facilitated relationships between DOD and the private sector.

Presenting during one of the panels was Navy Veteran Adam Hesch from the Defense Innovation Unit in Silicon Valley ... Hesch is part of a team performing software development.

Hesch expressed great value in a diverse team with both military and industry backgrounds, noting it “enhances our understanding” of the organizations they work with.

“Simply, when you have talented officers and researchers that can innovate systems on a large scale, then you can make an impact,” Hesch said. “I think our team, having the composition that it does, gives us advantages in solving hard challenges.”

Speaking to some of the already well established and successful relationships between NPS and industry, Dr. Don Brutzman, Professor in NPS' Department of Information Sciences, described how NPS has traditionally been a channel for the DOD and industry to collaborate on the needs of the United States.

“Why would companies want to work with NPS?” Brutzman asked. “Part of it is to have NPS faculty review their technology, and then have students look at operational applications. If you study the history of NPS all the way back to World War II, it took a combination of young officers, scientists and industry to work together to pull everything off and win.

“Amazing things have continued to happen here,” continued Brutzman. “When you bring all of that together down to CRUSER, it becomes an opportunity for NPS, industry, academia, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of Defense, to all come together and think of things in innovative and collaborative ways.”

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