Athena Design Challenge "Build-Sustain-Enhance"

What is it?

Athena is a online collaborative research discovery tool that allows researchers, sponsors, and leaders across the Naval Education Enterprise to access and query information currently stored in numerous separate databases.  Completed and ongoing research projects as well as potential future research topics are organized into “communities of interest” and then presented to potential researchers based on their education, military occupational specialty, and expressed research interests.
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How does it work?

Athena permits basic searching, sorting and viewing capability across archived, ongoing, and proposed research at NPS, MCU, and MCCDC’s Studies and Analysis Division.  The system accesses existing data sources and algorithms for topic search and provides users customized output sorted into “curated” communities of interest.  Completed research, ongoing research, potential research, and researchers are algorithmically matched based on keywords and other metadata tags in theses or research proposals and those expressed by researchers.
As a first step, Athena has merged disparate databases that contain information on research topics, sponsors, and researchers and provided a simple web-based search tool which can perform comprehensive topic based queries or allow users to view topics curated into “communities of interest” along multiple axes.  In future iterations, Athena will cross-reference research topics to service level priorities as well as allow for nearest neighbor queries so consumers could also be kept informed of similar or adjacent activities across the enterprise.  Additionally, Athena will help to to organize our current stove-piped naval research ecosystem through the use of algorithms that will provide custom analytics and views not unlike commercial “marketplace” applications embedded in Amazon or Kickstarter, delivering analyzed data to decision makers. The system will eventually allow users to rate topics, receive notifications of more recent activity, and refine communities based on increasingly nuanced preferences.  Senior leaders will be able to ask questions which remain open ended today such as which organizations are pursuing which topics?  Do our stated priorities align with our investments?  Where are we over-/under-invested?  Who are the experts in the Enterprise on specific topics?

What will it accomplish?

The objective of Athena is to leverage the untapped potential of hundreds of technically-skilled and operationally experienced Marines at the Naval Postgraduate School and attending Joint Professional Military Education. Linking this researcher capacity to Marine Corps research needs will provide the service insights regarding its most complicated challenges while simultaneously sharpening the students’ skills and ensuring that these future senior leaders gain early exposure to the complexities of service-level capability development.  In addition, Athena will keep the larger Naval Research Enterprise community informed of research trends across disconnected organizations and to track a researcher’s trajectory after his/her graduation.
Current processes for collecting, prioritizing, resourcing, and sharing results of research within the Navy and the Marine Corps are not integrated or transparent across organizational boundaries. This leads to inefficiencies, duplication of effort, and research not necessarily tied to Marine Corps priorities.  Worse, every year ~500 operationally experienced, highly educated, career-minded Marine officers attending graduate level education at the Naval Postgraduate School and Joint Professional Military Education select topics and conduct and publish research in a in a way that is disconnected from the service’s requirements, resources, and advocates.  The Marine Corps needs a way for its greatest researchers to find and work on the service’s greatest challenges.  This is the purpose of Athena.

Research projects within the Naval Education Enterprise are often treated simply as an obligatory aspect of earning a Master’s Degree and are often generated simply with the question “what would youlike to work on?” Current and completed research projects  are not consolidated into a single categorized list that is accessible to entities outside the parent organization and, being out of sight, often go un-resourced, without an advocate, or simply unread.  Athena seeks to remedy this shortfall by creating an online “marketplace of ideas” where potential researchers can “browse the stacks”of research topics, see what other researchers have done, see what research is currently being pursued, and meet similarly-minded researchers as well as research sponsors.  These vibrant communities of interest will allow Marine researchers to pursue topics that interest them, research sponsors to meet and support talented researchers, and, advocates to implement the resulting insights as new capability.

How to get access?

1.  Obtain NPS login credentials.
2.  Utilize NPS network or enter through NPS VPN.
3.  Click hyperlink below.