Office of Naval Research (ONR) Executive Director Dr. Walter Jones rallied students with his Secretary of the Navy Guest Lecture "Sustaining the Edge: Serving the Next Generation Warfighter Now," at the Naval Postgraduate School, Nov. 25.
As ONR's senior civilian manager, Jones provides executive, technical and scientific direction for the agency's mission of planning and managing advanced science and technology research for the Department of the Navy.
Here at the behest of the Cebrowski Institute For Innovation and Information Superiority, the Navy's top science and technology innovator was introduced by Professor Dan Boger, Interim Dean of Research, Chairman of the Department of Information Sciences and Executive Director of the National Security Institute.
"This is my third visit to NPS within the year I've been with ONR, and every time I see something important and interesting," he told the students."You're very lucky to be here. This is a wonderful place and a critical part of the Navy's Science and Technology Enterprise."
Jones noted the longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship between the Office of Naval Research and the Naval Postgraduate School.
"Nothing better exemplifies that special relationship than my soon-to-be replacement as executive director, Rear Admiral Nevin Carr, Jr., who’s an NPS Operations Research graduate  and whose thesis advisor just introduced me, Dan Boger," he said. Carr is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, International Programs Director, Navy International Programs Office.
"That should be a lesson for NPS faculty," Jones quipped. "Be nice to your students, because you never know when one of them will become the Director of the Office of Naval Research.
"When you leave here, remember that you're our ambassadors and our S&T eyes and ears out in the fleet and the services," Jones stressed to the assembled students. "If you see a problem in the field you think has an S&T solution, or have a great idea for what Admiral Roughhead calls 'the next big thing,' let us know. Get in touch through one of our ONR field offices, which are throughout the world. We need all of your continuing inputs to be the destination for the innovative ideas that enable us to sustain the cutting edge."
As for the future, the ONR Director encouraged students to consider a tour at his agency. "If you have an opportunity to work with ONR, it's also a great place to be," he said. "I promise if you do, you'll have a great time while making lasting contributions to Navy S&T.
"I'm very excited about the caliber of students and the fundamental game-changing research that's going on here at NPS -- for example on the electromagnetic railgun, immersive individual combatant training, autonomous unmanned systems and the free electron laser [FEL]," Jones said in an interview after the lecture. "And we at ONR helped you get the Stanford [University] FEL that will enable that work to be taken to the next level."
ONR sponsors a broad spectrum of research at NPS. Examples in the areas noted by Jones include "Superconducting Accelerator and Beamline Transport System for the NPS Free Electron Laser," "Experimental Studies of Free Electron Lasers in Naval Environments," and "Unmanned Surface Vehicle Riverine Obstacle Detection and Avoidance."
After the presentation, Jones took time to discuss Undersea Warfare student Lt. Dave Meissner's thesis idea of applying an algorithm developed for controlling parafoils to dropped sonabuoys.
"You don't usually get such interest and response from a high-level director," said Meissner. "It's really encouraging and refreshing to have that coming from ONR."
Prior to the lecture, Jones toured labs to see current examples of ONR sponsored research first hand.
"It was important for him to see these NPS-ONR collaborative points," said Director of ONR's Corporate Strategic Communications Office David Nystrom, who is a research associate with the Cebrowski Institute."Among the programs he was able to be briefed on and interact with were the advanced computational facilities and the MOVES [Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation] motion platform and indoor simulator marksmanship trainer [see photo]."
"ONR sponsored projects constitute about a third of our MOVES research portfolio," said MOVES Director Cmdr. Joe Sullivan.
Prior to his current position as ONR executive director, Jones was Director of Plans and Programs at the Air Force Research Laboratory. He also served as Director of Aerospace and Materials Science for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and was a senior program analyst with the Office of the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence for Community Management.
Jones held several additional positions with the Air Force, including deputy for research sciences with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition) and Deputy for Science and Technology with the Office of the National Security Space Architect. He has served on the faculty at the University of Florida, the University of Tennessee and Clemson University.
Jones received his Ph.D. and Master of Science in engineering mechanics, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, from Clemson University. He also earned a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.