Dr. Thomas Russell (right), director of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, speaks during the Open Campus Open House at Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Mallette Auditorium Nov. 4, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

Army researchers connect with partners at APG Open Campus Open House

By Dan Lafontaine, RDECOM Public Affairs

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Nov. 5, 2015) — The U.S. Army research community joined its counterparts in academia and industry to discuss better collaboration techniques during a conference Nov. 3–4.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, held its second Open Campus Open House at APG’s Mallette Auditorium with about 700 fellow researchers from across the country.

ARL Director Dr. Thomas Russell led an hour-long question-and-answer panel discussion with the audience. Eight ARL researchers who manage the lab’s Science and Technology Campaigns joined Russell.

The dialogue focused on improving shared research interests to support U.S. national security priorities.

“Any partnership that is successful is going to be based on mutual trust. Engage as early as possible to develop a true relationship,” Russell said.
Army, academic and industry researchers discuss projects during the Open Campus Open House at Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Mallette Auditorium Nov. 4, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

ARL launched its Open Campus model in the summer of 2014 and held the first open house in December 2014 at its headquarters in Adelphi, Maryland. ARL is one of seven centers that make up the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.

Fifty percent of the conference attendees came from academia, and much of the discussion centered on increasing opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to work with government scientists and engineers. The panel fielded questions about increasing engagement for international and minority students.

Russell acknowledged that minorities, especially Hispanics, are underrepresented in ARL’s workforce, and efforts are continuing to improve diversity. ARL had about 50 international college students as 2015 summer interns from countries including Iran, Pakistan, China, Israel and Australia, he said.

With respect to educational outreach efforts, Russell said the goal is to support the nation, not simply ARL.

“We don’t care if they come to work for ARL. We care if they come into the ecosystem somewhere [in national security]. Even if we support someone in graduate school and they choose not to come to ARL, that’s OK,” he said. “If they go to work for the Air Force or a company, that’s great.

“We’re trying to populate the ecosystem, not just ARL. We all need to think that way.”

In addition to academia, 40 percent of the registrants came from industry/small business and 10 percent from other government agencies. Participants represented 40 states, and about 110 international researchers attended from 19 countries.

ARL’s Open Campus website received about 20,000 hits, and about 300 people streamed the conference live Nov. 3.

Collaborative opportunities with ARL exist in the areas of computational sciences, materials research, sciences for maneuver, information sciences, human sciences, sciences for lethality and protection, and assessment and analysis.

Audience members listen to U.S. Army Research Laboratory panel members during the Open Campus Open House at Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Mallette Auditorium Nov. 4, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Conrad Johnson)

ARL is building the Open Campus model at APG, where it houses significant research in areas such as weapons and materials, advanced computing and Soldier performance.

The lab is also investing in the Open Campus concept at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico; the Simulation and Training Technology Center in Orlando, Florida; and the University of Southern California’s Institute of Creative Technologies in Los Angeles.

Audience members expressed interest in virtual collaboration between college students and ARL employees to bridge obstacles presented by geographical distances.

Dr. Pat Baker, who leads ARL’s Assessment and Analysis S&T Campaign, said new collaboration ideas are needed because scientific expertise is widespread in today’s world.

“We’re huge supporters of virtual collaboration. Where we’re headed, you’re going to see even more. We’re taking big leaps in recognizing that we have to be able to work across the country and world,” Baker said.

Cindy Bedell, leader of the Information Sciences S&T Campaign, emphasized the importance of long-term investment for government, academic and industry researchers.

“For some of the research we’re starting today, we don’t expect to harvest until 2050. For the students who really want the challenging problems, we’re looking at those. We’d love to talk with you.”

Editor’s note: The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

Originally published at www.army.mil on November 5, 2015.

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