NORFOLK, Va. — Old Dominion University and Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) leaders initiated an epic increase in Navy and university collaborative efforts by signing three agreements at a ceremony Oct. 28.
The agreements — a memorandum of understanding, an education partnership agreement, and a non-disclosure agreement — will expand collaboration benefitting Navy technology programs as well as the university's students and faculty.
"We are looking forward to a meaningful partnership," said NSWCDD Commander Capt. Brian Durant. “We've had a long history with ODU and this opportunity is the next step to solidify and leverage our joint efforts that benefit the Navy and the nation.”
In effect, the agreements signed by Durant and ODU President Dr. John Broderick formalize a strong link between the organizations.
Specifically, the memorandum of understanding defines the engagement field of the maturing NSWCDD-ODU relationship. The non-disclosure contract enables NSWCDD and ODU to leverage each other's intellectual capacity in a secure manner. The education partnership agreement enables NSWCDD to enrich ODU students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics arena to foster a pipeline of future employees.
"Almost 25 percent of our student population is military affiliated," said Broderick, emphasizing that the agreements signify, “a much more engaged partnership that will open even more doors for all.”
The memorandum of understanding also creates a new framework of cooperation for mutually beneficial innovative research projects and activities.
"Academic partnerships such as this are vital to our Navy research and development efforts because they bring a unique perspective to the table,” said Dr. Marty Irvine, head of the NSWCDD Maritime Warfare Systems Department based at Combat Systems Direction Activity Dam Neck, Virginia Beach, Virginia.
This collaboration on technology focus areas such as mission engineering and cyber warfare engineering — crucial to NSWCDD and ODU — provides opportunities to expand into cybersecurity, decision science, modeling and simulation, marine engineering, warfighter performance, and unmanned and autonomous systems.
“ODU has an outstanding and growing capacity in the field of engineering, particularly in some of our interest areas, like cybersecurity engineering and additive manufacturing/3D printing,” said Irvine. “We are greatly looking forward to leveraging and sharing knowledge and expertise."
Navy and university officials look forward to a maturing relationship that may result in another formal contract, called a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA), in the future. The CRADA is one of the principal mechanisms used by federal labs to engage in collaborative efforts with non-federal partners to achieve goals of technology transfer.
"The partnership between ODU and NSWCDD provides critical linkages toward the institutionalization of the innovative mission engineering approach,” said Dr. James Moreland, Naval Warfare deputy director and an ODU adjunct professor who teaches and is developing a curriculum on mission engineering at the university. “To rapidly embed this behavior change into a large technical workforce, it will take both academia and NSWC Dahlgren Division hands-on training resources.”
The linkages enable increased collaboration across the university on research in specific areas, the development of courses, and certification for NSWCDD staff. It also provides opportunities for ODU faculty and students to participate in research projects.
“ODU is well positioned based on physical location to the operational Fleet as well as their foundational work in system-of-systems engineering and modeling and simulation,” said Moreland.
The ODU National Centers for System of Systems Engineering is nationally recognized for its system-of-systems engineering work. ODU’s modeling and simulation research takes place at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center — a university-wide multidisciplinary research center that emphasizes modeling, simulation, and visualization, research, development and education.
“The pairing of these institutions creates a good incubation cell for advanced research ideas to drive the quantitative methods for the next generation of integrated warfighting capabilities," said Moreland, who served as NSWCDD chief engineer before his current position supporting the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.
In fiscally constrained environments, it’s important for the Navy and academic institutions to look for more synergistic ways to continue providing cutting edge technology to the warfighter with less funding using progressive relationships and agreements.
In addition to on-campus and on-line courses, ODU professors have been teaching at the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren campus — near NSWCDD’s Dahlgren, Virginia, location — for several years, enabling Navy scientists and engineers to keep abreast with technology and understand the realm of the possible for the future.