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Artists, Entrepreneurs, and Engineers Collaborate at IDE

On Wednesday, April 10, the Doolittle Institute’s Technology Transfer team hosted six panelists to review and discuss three Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) inventions for the first Innovation Discovery Event of the year. Dr. Mike Reilly from Montana-based TechLink facilitated the event.

Innovation Discovery Event (IDE) panelists are experienced professionals from diverse fields of study. Drawing on their backgrounds, panelists help AFRL scientists and engineers guide their research to the disclosure process and assist them in uncovering new applications for their inventions. Among the inventions the panelists reviewed are a flight motion simulator technology, and new tools for measuring the surface energy of solid materials.

After listening to a presentation from each scientist, panelists brainstormed innovative ways the inventions could be used, which ranged from medical devices and 3D printing to communications and HVAC systems. Dr. Reilly stressed that no ideas are bad ideas in an IDE and encouraged panelists to remain uncritical of any concept that comes to mind.

“The process allows the technologist to ‘socialize’ their work,” Dr. Reilly said. “The IDE is one of the few opportunities AFRL/RW scientists and engineers have to present their work to a relaxed audience.”

Post-event surveys showed that participants found the IDE useful; it exposed them to people outside their professional fields and gave them new avenues for investigation.

“We are finding that our inventors really get a lot out of the Innovation Discovery Process,” said Scott Swanson, Technology Transfer Program Manager. “There is always some natural trepidation when we first approach them to present, but when it’s all done, they become our best proponent to others in the lab. It’s always been a very positive experience”

Three panelists returned from last year’s IDEs: Dr. James Mann, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of West Florida; Vernon Niven, CEO and Entrepreneur; and Steve Millaway, Founder and CEO of TechFarms. New faces assisting AFRL scientists included Patrick Houghton, Senior Vice President of Engineering at ActiGraph; Thomas Asmuth, Associate Professor of Digital Art at the University of West Florida; and Dr. Brent Edington, Director of Commercialization at Florida State University.

The Doolittle Institute, an AFRL Innovation Institute, supports the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate by working to license and commercialize AFRL/RW technologies in the private sector, enable rapid technology delivery to the warfighter, identify and foster new R&D partnerships and develop AFRL’s current and future workforce. The Doolittle Institute is a member of the Defensewerx Family.

For more information about participating in an IDE either as a presenter or panelist, please contact the Doolittle Institute Tech Transfer team at (850) 842-4393 or email us at

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