The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) and General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS), provider of a diverse portfolio of aerospace and energy systems to the Department of Defense, recently finalized a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, to conduct both classified and unclassified research in the area of advanced space technologies.
The three-year partnership between the university and GA-EMS, which currently supplies electromagnetic aircraft launch and recovery systems and electromagnetic rail gun technology to the U.S. Navy, has the potential to expand into additional technology areas of mutual interest.
Top executives from GA-EMS, including President Scott Forney, visited the university Nov. 14 to provide a first-hand introduction on the company’s capabilities to interested students and faculty, and offered insight on available research opportunities made possible through the CRADA.
“We are really excited to be working with the Naval Postgraduate School and getting this CRADA in place to allow students to come down to our facilities to do their theses,” said Forney. “There are a lot of cool things that we’re going to be doing in the next few years.”
While NPS has entered into several similar types of research agreements with industry partners over the years, the ability to conduct research in the classified space makes the university, and this particular CRADA, a bit unique.
“Once private companies start researching and developing technology for defense applications, there’s a good chance it will become classified,” said Dr. Todd Weatherford, a professor in the NPS Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a key figure in the agreement’s genesis.
“We at NPS have deep technical and academic knowledge of what we need, and defense contractors have the engineers,” Weatherford continued. “Together, we can guide the research and development of newly-proposed systems, and the flexibility of having different classification levels allows us to explore more application for our research.”
Add in the operational experience and drive of the NPS professional student body, and you have the perfect combination of expertise, relevant experience and resources to advance defense technologies. Teaming up with defense contractors through CRADAs not only benefits the university and the DOD, but the partnering company as well.
“The advantage for the contractor is that our students understand the operational use of the research,” said Weatherford. “With that operational knowledge combined with the engineers, we’re going to produce some very valuable theses.”