The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) held its latest annual Naval Research Working Group (NRWG), April 10-12, 2018, on the university’s campus in Monterey. The NRWG serves as a forum for Navy and Marine organizations to communicate, review, validate and recommend topics for NPS research over the coming fiscal year.
Now in its fifth year, the annual NRWG hopes to bring NPS faculty members and students in contact with respective Department of Defense (DOD) organizations to meet current and future operational warfighter challenges through research.
“This is one more opportunity to tie our faculty and students back to our operating forces,” said Program Manager for NRWG 18, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Louis Camardo. “They are already doing world-class research in support of the DOD, and this helps not only bring problems from the fleet back to NPS but also gives our sponsors the chance to see what is going to be important for the future.”
The multifaceted forum included a variety of events, such as poster sessions and revolving panel sessions held on site at NPS’ Barbara McNitt ballroom, as well as lab tours around the NPS campus that highlighted the capabilities of 18 of its research labs.
“The poster sessions serve as a chance for our research sponsors to see the breadth and depth of research that is going on at NPS currently, and that starts a conversation regarding what is the art of the possible regarding research,” said Camardo. “The panel sessions then offer faculty and students a chance to come over at their leisure to talk about future research projects from whatever sponsors they want, and follow up on previous conversations.”
The event also included the latest of NPS’ Secretary of the Navy Guest Lecture (SGL) series, given by NRWG 18’s keynote speaker Deputy Commandant of Installation and Logistics, U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael Dana, who spoke to over 1,500 students, faculty and staff in King Auditorium.
Dana spoke about innovation and technology and the impact it has made on the way military operations are conducted throughout history, from the Gatling gun to canning food.
“In your mind’s eye imagine that you are a World War I veteran, and you look up in the sky and you see a biplane ... You know it has great potential, you just don’t know how yet,” said Dana. “Think about today, and where we will be 20 years from now with things like artificial intelligence and unmanned systems.
“The biggest thing we can do is start to frame the problem in different ways, because a lot of the times in problem framing there are things sitting right in front of you and you don’t realize it,” he continued. “That’s why you need people who have different outlooks, different experiences, different perspectives to look at a problem and help turn it on its head.”
Also presenting to the group was Maj. Chris Woods, an NPS graduate also from the USMC Office of Installation and Logistics who, according to Dana, “Has made a huge impact on Marine Corps logistics innovation.” During his remarks, Woods spoke on the DOD’s future concerning unmanned platforms, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing and 3-D more.
“The biggest thing to note about much of these new technologies is that none of them are really that new,” said Woods. “A lot of them have been around for upwards of 30 years, it is just that we have learned how to utilize them in different ways. What has changed is that the commercial market has learned how to take these systems and monetize them in a scale we have never seen before. We in DOD need to learn how to adapt to these changes and adapt to technology in a way that supports the national defense strategy as a whole.”
The first iteration of NRWG originally kicked off in 2014, this year’s forum including sponsors in attendance representing 40 different DOD and government agencies.
“We have been doing this program since the beginning and we are here to help build a stronger bond between us and NPS to help do the research that answers our hardest problems,” said Deputy and Technical Director at OPNAV N1 (Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education)’s Modeling and Assessment Office Ilia Christman, who attended as a topic resource sponsor and representative for OPNAV N1.
“We are looking at a broad spectrum to help us develop system support systems and metrics as well as systems for talent management with both the School of Business and Public Policy and the Operations Research Department, and as a former NPS alumni myself it is always nice to be back,” Christman said.
Funding for research in fiscal year 2019 is proposed to be about $12 million. To date over 2,000 topics have been submitted through the Navy Research Program Topic Portal, and over 600 research projects have been completed or are in progress.
“It’s awesome to be able to see what is on the minds of all these important institutions and how it intercepts with our curriculum,” said Maj. Alissa Tarsiuk, a student studying Manpower and Systems Analysis. “A lot of questions that myself, and other students going into this, have is, ‘What can I do to help better the Marine Corps by choosing a meaningful thesis?’ Being able to see what’s on everyone’s mind and making important connections has been very helpful in making that happen.”