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NPS Professor's Fulbright Leads to Possible Collaboration

NPS Professor Alex Bordetsky welcomed senior leadership from Israel’s Haifa Research Center for Maritime Policy and Strategy for a series of briefings on possible collaborations in maritime security. The relationship stems from Bordetsky’s recent participation in the J. William Fulbright Senior Scholar program, for which he was recognized with an award from the Office of Naval Research Global.

Senior leaders from the Haifa Research Center for Maritime Policy and Strategy attended a series of meetings and tours with NPS Department of Information Sciences Associate Professor Alex Bordetsky on the university campus, July 20. The purpose of the visit was to discuss Bordetsky’s research through the J. William Fulbright Senior Scholar program in hopes of furthering future collaborations between the two institutions on maritime security.

“Our goal was to apply our knowledge of networks and new techniques of maritime operations including the tracking of illicit material trafficking, and littoral operations, to help the Haifa Center come up with maritime strategy solutions,” said Bordetsky.

“Israel is in the process of developing more offshore infrastructure, so they have their own expertise, and this is one area where our expertise merges. This combined with the unique knowledge from [Stanford University’s] Hoover Institute and NPS’ leadership in technology integration studies, all relate to developing new techniques in defending the coastal area,” he continued. 

The Haifa Research Center for Maritime Policy and Strategy was established in response to the rising significance of the maritime domain, both globally and in Israel’s maritime surroundings. Its focus is on developing knowledge of maritime strategy in five key areas: regional security and foreign policy, mobility of goods, people and ideas, law, and energy and the environment.

Bordetsky was selected for the prestigious Fulbright program on March 10, 2014 and spent his term with the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel to create a “field site” that combines physical experiments and robotic models in a physical-virtual lab to solve complex, satellite-based, information architecture and network challenges.

“We intend to create an operational environment by combing actual field experiments and operations with unique simulators that are interacting with a virtual environment,” said Bordetsky in a 2014 interview. “The experimenters will be linked to institutions through which we can leverage combined capabilities to test cube- and pico-satellite based information architectures.”

Participants of the J. William Fulbright Senior Scholar program are selected by the 12-member J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board to lecture, conduct research, or exercise their talents abroad to help establish mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through the exchange of skills and ideas.

“Members of the Senior Scholar program learn how to work with people from different backgrounds representing the highest level of expertise, and you start working with these people on tasks that don’t seem to be feasible in the near future. This sort of collaboration is what makes the Fulbright program so important,” said Bordetsky.

“And this is just the starting point,” he added. “You are now an academic ambassador so this meeting is my second big step. The first being my initial team in Technion, and being presented with the Office of Naval Research Global award for our work on a network of low-orbit miniature satellites to protect the maritime domain.

“The Haifa Research Center for Maritime Policy and Strategy actually came in second for the award,” he continued. “It was then that I was introduced to the team during one of my last trips to Technion and it became clear that it was a good match.”

Meetings on campus covered such aspects as joint table-top exercises and maritime offshore infrastructure protection experiments. The briefs also covered lessons learned from trials in the field, including issues in the cyber domain, littoral operations and offshore protection.

“The table-top events, which will be joined by the Hoover Institute, will allow us to take all this and take it to the policy domain,” said Bordetsky. “It’s not just about what we learned, but how we, as a joint community, create a transition into new policies that apply to maritime domain awareness. I have gotten great feedback and there is noticeable motivation to move forward.”

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