DI Program Manager joins global STEM education advisory committee

Lauren Bierman headshot at the Doolittle Institute

On 16 April 2021, the FIRST® and LEGO® Education invited the Doolittle Institute’s STEM Program Manager, Lauren Bierman, to join its global advisory committee, the Partner Executive Advisory Committee. Bierman accepted on 27 April 2021.

Bierman will contribute to the Partner Executive Advisory Committee (PEAC), a group established by FIRST® and LEGO® Education in 2018. Not only will she provide future program guidance to both FIRST® and LEGO® Education globally, but she will also speak on behalf of the Program Delivery Partner community of the entire United States.

FIRST® and LEGO® Education started FIRST® LEGO League, an extracurricular program designed to inspire students to become science and technology leaders and innovators. FIRST® LEGO League engages students in exciting mentor-based programs which build science, engineering, and technology skills, inspire innovation, and foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

PEAC meets at least quarterly with partners from the UK & Ireland, Australia, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Mexico, Brazil, USA, and Canada. Bierman will connect with these progressive and dedicated Program Delivery Partners to provide recommendations regarding strategic direction, program content, and delivery methods; and to represent the experiences, perspectives, and concerns shared by USA partners.

Bierman oversees the Doolittle Institute’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) outreach programs, including FIRST® LEGO® Leagues, FIRST® Tech Challenge, AFRL LEGACY Craftsman, and AFRL Junior Apprentices. The Doolittle Institute’s STEM programs reach students from Pre-K through high school, and often beyond.

Providing robust STEM education is a crucial part of cultivating a strong future workforce. The Doolittle Institute remains committed to sixteen Northwest Florida counties—from Pensacola through Tallahassee—to develop and support students’ technical and interpersonal skills, leading them to high-paying careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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 our STEM Outreach programs, please contact the Doolittle Institute at (850) 226-4383 or email us at stem@doolittleinstitute.org.

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Niceville researcher honored as exceptional scientist

AFRL 2020 Fellows Award Recipients

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) live streamed an awards ceremony honoring exceptional scientists and engineers on Tuesday, November 10. Among those recognized for their contributions was Eglin Air Force Base’s very own Dr. C. Michael Lindsay. Dr. Lindsay serves as the technical advisor in the Energetic Materials Branch of the Ordnance Division at the AFRL Munitions Directorate.

The 2020 Fellows and Science and Engineering Early Career Awards Ceremony recognizes outstanding scientists and engineers in three categories: research achievements, technology development and transition achievements, or program and organizational leadership. AFRL Fellows join an elite group of researchers.  Only 0.3% of this year’s AFRL professional technical staff were selected, and there have only been 23 AFRL Fellows in the program’s 33-year existence.

“In response to the pivoting national security posture, Dr. Lindsay has fundamentally redefined the Air Force’s strategic direction in high explosives research and development to meet the warfighter’s needs in a potential peer adversary conflict,” said Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, Commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory. “As the Air Force representative in the Department of Defense’s (DOD) critical Energetic Materials Working Group, Dr. Lindsay drafted presidential determinations, influenced national policy, and developed plans to meet surging demand for energetic materials critical for our fight against ISIS. From foundational research, to transitioning key technologies into weapons systems, his technical contributions to the energetic materials enterprise leaves an enduring impact on our most critical military technologies.”

Dr. Lindsay lives in Niceville, Florida, with his wife, Tracy; his son, Ethan; and daughter, Mikayla.

Photo Credit: AFRL

Inaugural RWU Symposium was “phenomenal”

Darnell Diggs hosting RWU at the Doolittle Institute

Niceville, FL (5 November 2020) – The Doolittle Institute hosted the first-ever RWU Symposium over three days last week, from October 28 through October 30, 2020. Dr. Darnell Diggs, Chancellor of RWU and AFRL/RW’s Enterprise Learning Officer, described the event as “phenomenal.”

The theme of the RWU Symposium was “Designing, Constructing, and Unleashing the Power of Workforce Development.” The event officially rolled out RW University, the Air Force Research Lab Munitions Directorate’s (AFRL/RW) new internal learning management organization, and provided the workforce with new avenues of professional and personal development.

The agenda included keynote speakers and panel discussions, with over 100 people tuning in for the Designing a Powerful Workforce Panel Discussion. Based on the feedback received, many members of AFRL/RW stated they felt a renewed sense of excitement for work and look forward to seeing what RWU will offer in the future.

Among the speakers were Cal Newport, author of the book Deep Work and professor at Georgetown University; Simon Sinek, motivational speaker and author of Leaders Eat Last; and Garry Ridge, author of Helping People Win at Work and longtime WD-40 CEO. Newport’s speech alone garnered 146 participants.

The Doolittle Institute handled all event planning, coordination, and execution. Amanda Southern, the Doolittle Institute’s Training Coordinator, spearheaded the event. She met weekly with Dr. Diggs well in advance of the event, set an action plan into place, contracted all speakers, and ran the RWU Symposium according to its agenda.

“I am ecstatic with how the first RWU Symposium went,” Ms. Southern said. “There was a lot of hard work put into this event by a lot of people, and to hear the feedback we have been receiving—about how people feel ‘reignited’ and excited to take on new challenges at work—that makes it all worth it. That’s the reaction we had hoped to receive all along.”

The symposium exceeded Dr.Diggs’ expectations, especially after the COVID-19 outbreak forced the originally in-person event to a virtual one. He exclaimed he was impressed by all the support DI’s team provided to make this event a successful one.

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 hosting your next RW training session at the Doolittle Institute, please call us at (850) 842-4393 or email us at info@doolittleinstitute.org.

Nearly $100K in Grants Awarded to STEM Teams

Lego with processor board banner

The Doolittle Institute’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Outreach program awarded or facilitated $99,599.38 in grant money to Florida’s FIRST® teams. The funds will impact over 1,500 students across the state.

The Doolittle Institute awarded $12,599.38 to FIRST® teams, money which was allocated to Northwest Florida’s underserved students on veteran and rookie teams, those in need of practice fields and field elements, and their robotics kits. Teams applied to be placed on a 3-year plan with us, and the Doolittle Institute granted awardees directly. As part of this grant, we fund the team in their first year as we teach them sustainability. Thereafter, teams learn to fund themselves on an stepped scale.

Teams only needed a local mentor to qualify for our FIRST® grants; our partnership with the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and Eglin Air Force Base allows us to work with a local Department of Defense (DoD) STEM coordinator and connect Northwest Florida teams with mentors working for the DoD.

The DoD also offered grants to FIRST® teams who already had a DoD mentor. These funds, which the Doolittle Institute facilitated and the DoD awarded, helped rookie and veteran teams prepare for the upcoming virtual season.

“We worked to collect applications from teams across the state who have already established a DoD mentor, and we applied to this grant for them,” said Lauren Bierman, the Doolittle Institute’s STEM Outreach Program Manager. “We do everything we can to find financing for teams.” She and our STEM Outreach team facilitated $87,000 in DoD grants.

In previous years, DoD grants facilitated by the Doolittle Institute were only open to the 16 counties of Northwest Florida. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, however, the Doolittle Institute opened DoD grants to the entire state of Florida. Our STEM Outreach team led the collection, management, review and submission of 83 statewide applications.

“We increased the number of students impacted this year, however we cannot count how many students, total, will be impacted by these funds because each team does outreach of its own,” Bierman said.

The call for applications is released each Spring to FIRST® Program Delivery Partners, plus our STEM Outreach Team sends an e-mail out to all historical teams. Grant applications are open to FIRST® LEGO® League’s Discover, Explore, and Challenge teams, and FIRST® Tech Challenge AeroCoast Robotics teams. We also accept DoD grant applications for FIRST® Robotics level teams. Funds are typically awarded to students enrolled in Title I schools. Rookie teams and industry partners who wish to sponsor teams can contact us to get started.

The Doolittle Institute proudly manages Northwest Florida Region’s FIRST® LEGO® League: Explore, FIRST® LEGO® League: Challenge, and FIRST® Tech Challenge: AeroCoast league programs, preparing today’s students to be tomorrow’s STEM workforce. The 16 counties in the Doolittle Institute’s local region include Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Gulf, Franklin, Liberty, Calhoun, Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Wakulla, and Jefferson.

Hurricane Sally Facility Closures

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21 September 2020 Update

Our facility reopened and is fully operational as of Monday, 21 September at 8:00 AM.


17 September 2020 Update

Our facility is experiencing significant issues after Hurricane Sally, and we will remain closed until further notice.


16 September 2020 Update

Our facility will remain closed through Thursday, 17 September. Roadways have been closed or washed out, the building is currently without internet, and we want to conduct a full building inspection prior to resuming normal operations.


15 September 2020 Update

Our facility will remain closed through Wednesday, 16 September. Although we anticipate reopening on Thursday, there is much uncertainty around Hurricane Sally’s future behavior, and the final decision will not be made until Wednesday afternoon.


14 September 2020

Due to the threat of Hurricane Sally, the Doolittle Institute will be closed on Tuesday, 15 September 2020. On-site events will be rescheduled. We will monitor conditions before deciding whether or not to reopen on Wednesday, 16 September 2020.

DI Team Member accepted into leadership program

Jonathan Edwards's headshot at the Doolittle Institute 2

The Doolittle Institute’s Jonathan “Johnny” Edwards was accepted into Leadership Okaloosa’s Class of 2021. He joined the Doolittle Institute as our receptionist in January of 2020 after moving down to Florida from Washington, D.C.

Johnny has 11 years of hospitality management experience under his belt, spending the last five working in condominium- and homeowners association management. He holds several certifications from the Community Association Institute. He grew up on a tobacco farm spanning North Carolina and Tennessee before swearing into the U.S. Coast Guard, where he attended culinary school. When he’s not greeting guests at the Doolittle Institute or pursuing his degree in Business, Johnny likes to cook, play rugby and Ms. Pacman (but not at the same time), boating, or running with his lab retriever mix.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to become an active leader,” he said. “I joined Leadership Okaloosa to learn how to better lead and facilitate change through diversity and respect for all. I want to work with local leaders building an anchor to bring in positive tides that can build up everyone in our community together.”

One of Johnny’s most proud achievements is playing rugby under IGR and serving on both The Charleston Blockade’s and Baltimore Flamingo’s Rugby boards. Two USA/IGR Rugby Teams working to bring diversity and awareness for equality through sport to communities locally and abroad. While on the Charleston Blockade Johnny helped teammates build a very successful yearly coat and sock drive for the less fortunate. Johnny also played in The Bingham Cup in Sydney, Australia helping win the Hoagland Vase (named in honor of Mark Bingham’s mother, Mark was one of the first openly gay rugby players and help take down flight 93). While serving The Flamingos Johnny worked in a local meal kitchen with fellow players and donated time to a local Aids charity fundraisers.

Northwest Florida State College’s Leadership Okaloosa program is a nine-month experience is designed to enhance participants’ leadership skills and provide community awareness. Hosted from September to May, participants receive classroom training by certified instructors and are given opportunities to interact with various key community leaders throughout the process.

Tours of key areas such as Destin, Crestview, Niceville, Valparaiso, Fort Walton Beach, Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field and Legislative Days in Tallahassee provide participants with a better understanding of the community. Each participant takes part in a group project to benefit the community while focusing on project management, time management and team building skills.

Doolittle Institute connects business, Air Force at 4th Annual Seminar

Laura Rakas' presenting the SBIR/STTR seminar at the Doolittle Institute

Niceville, FL (9 June 2020) The Doolittle Institute wrapped up its fourth annual Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Tech Transfer (SBIR/STTR) Seminar last Thursday. 

Over 300 people registered to learn more about the Air Force SBIR/STTR program. Virtual discussions were led by six speakers, including David Shahady of the U.S. Air Force SBIR/STTR Program; Angela Grayson, a Patent, Trademark, Copyright, and Technology Law attorney; Rich Julien of Amazon Web Services’ Public Sector Venture Capital and Startups; Major Christopher Benson of AFWERX; Lt. Col. Aneel Alvares of the Defense Innovation Unit; and Stacy Swider from the SBIR Center of Excellence at UMass Lowell Research Institute.

“Great line up of speakers,commented Robert Klees, the Strategic Partnerships Manager at Wright Brothers Institute in Dayton, OH. “And I enjoyed hearing the latest and greatest about FY 20 AF SBIR cycle plans – it has naturally been a little disruptive on both sides of the fence, and the Air Force SBIR Leadership did a nice job of providing clarity.

The Doolittle Institute hosts a SBIR/STTR event each year. The event serves as an opportunity for businesses and academia to discover ways to engage with the Air Force. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this year marked the first time the event was held virtually. Speakers discussed a variety of topics, like how to navigate through the Defense Innovation Unit process, understanding the legal fundamentals of collaborating on jointly developed technologies, and tips for writing proposals. 

Entities outside of the Air Force innovation ecosystem considered the SBIR/STTR Seminar indispensable. That was one of the most useful & wellorganized webinars I have ever attended, wrote Rich Holloman, Founder and CVO of Mobodyne.

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 opportunities to collaborate with the Air Force, please contact the Doolittle Institute at (850) 226-4383 or at www.doolittleinstitute.org/contact. 

Inaugural University Day connects Academia, AFRL

Mike Van Dyke at University Day social distancing at the Doolittle Institute

The Doolittle Institute hosted its first virtual event to support the Air Force Research Lab Munitions Directorate (AFRL/RW) in fostering new relationships with talented–yet previously untapped–universities.

The Doolittle Institute initially placed a call for abstracts in four topic areas: Extreme Environments, Active Imaging, Nano-photonics, and Vibrations. Twenty-four universities from 18 states submitted over 50 abstracts, prompting expansion to a fifth topic area, Plasmonics. The Doolittle Institute worked closely with AFLR/RW to select the final 15 abstracts. Agility was critical to this event, from adding additional topics to pivoting to a virtual event amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Air Force 2030 Science & Technology Strategy (2030 S&T) sought to significantly expand competition for and engagement of university-based Air Force research . Ultimately, ten universities were represented: the University of Central Florida, Cleveland State University, Virginia Tech, the University of Florida, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the University of Hawaii, Johns Hopkins University, University of New Mexico, Vanderbilt University and the University of Massachusetts.

Over 100 people registered to attend, and more than 80 people participated concurrently during University Day. Members of AFRL/RW ranked as the highest percentage of those registered. Academic researchers received 25 minutes to present their topics and field questions from participants online. Considering it a successful event, AFRL/RW made funding available for researchers whose ideas held the most potential.

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 collaborating with AFRL, please contact the Doolittle Institute at (850) 226-4383 or contact us at doolittleinstitute.org/contact.

Nail That Video Pitch

Camera interviewing angle

Ever recoiled at yourself on camera? (Don’t worry: no, you don’t really look like that.) With the outbreak of COVID-19 causing many in-person events to pivot to virtual events, we’re here to make sure you put your best foot forward in your next recorded video pitch or presentation.

1. Test everything.

Whether you’ve done this a million times before, or are giving this a shot for the first time, be sure you have all the appropriate apps, plugins, or software updates installed and working properly. Verify the wireless and hardwired connections between all your devices are strong and stable. Make sure your battery is fully charged and that you have enough disk space to store your recording. Then record a test pitch or presentation.

2. Clear the clutter.

Choose a simple background, or if you’re presenting from a desk, clear away anything you don’t need immediately for your pitch. “The only focus should be on you,” says Paul J. Bailo in his book The Essential Digital Interview Handbook, “with a bland, neutral background that frames you as the focal point.”

Putting you center stage also means you should prevent pets, children, app notifications, or stray noises from interrupting your presentation. Put a sign on your door politely asking visitors to come back later, and package handlers to refrain from knocking or ringing the doorbell.

3. Check the lighting.

When reviewing your test presentation, pay attention to the lighting: are there any weird shadows under your eyes, nose, or mouth? Can you see your face clearly? Is your face only lit by the glow of your monitor? Be sure your face is well-lit with light from multiple angles, not just from overhead. Natural daylight is best, but if you can’t sit in front of a row of bay windows, surround yourself with lamps stealthfully placed off-camera.

4. Project your voice.

Digital audio can be finicky, picking up the dog barking across the street but not the sentence you said ten seconds ago. Speak clearly and slightly louder than normal speaking volume. If you have to stand away from your camera to give your presentation, consider using a Bluetooth Headset or earbuds with a built-in microphone to pick up your voice.

Prepare and practice an outline or script so you don’t ramble.

5. Notice your body language.

Remember what you were told as a kid? Don’t slouch, make eye contact, and hold your head up high? That still applies. Avoid crossing your arms or looking at yourself in the monitor. It is fine, however, to talk with your hands if that makes you comfortable!

Relatedly, place the camera at eye level–no higher, no lower. Look directly into the camera lens because it gives the viewer the same feeling as eye contact does: it is confident and personal.

6. Wear pants.

This may seem silly if you’re only recording form the chest up, but dress head-to-toe exactly like you would in person for a high-stakes interview. This will not only make you feel more confident, but also it makes the viewer see you as organized, professional, and prepared.

Avoid wearing bright, flashy colors or busy patterns as these don’t often translate well on camera. Wear whatever you plan to wear during your test video so you can see how it looks from an outsider’s perspective, or ask for feedback from a friend or family member.

Monitoring the COVID-19 Outbreak

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With confirmed cases of COVID-19/coronavirus documented in the Florida Panhandle, the Doolittle Institute will act cautiously to prevent the virus’ spread. This page will be the first place we will announce changes to scheduling, facility hours, and event cancellations or postponements. Please bookmark this page and refresh it when you revisit for the latest updates. You can also watch for announcements on our Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

April 8, 2021

Facility Updates

Masks are recommended in our facility.

We still operate at a reduced capacity in each room to accommodate social distancing guidelines. Although our facility is staffed, various members of the DI Team still work from home and/or socially distance themselves from guests and each other.


February 4, 2021

Facility Updates

The Doolittle Institute is closed to the general public until further notice.

According to the SECDEF memo dated February 4, 2021, masks are required to be worn properly at all times in our facility unless (a) you are alone in a room with floor-to-ceiling walls AND a closed door, (b) you are actively eating/drinking AND socially distanced, (c) you are lowering your mask for security/identification purposes, or (d) it is necessary to accommodate an individual with a disability.

We reduced capacity in each room to 1/3 of its original capacity to accommodate social distancing guidelines. Although our facility is staffed, various members of the DI Team still work from home and/or socially distance themselves from guests and each other.


Nov 2, 2020

Facility Updates

The Doolittle Institute is closed to the general public until further notice. For on-site, in-person events, Members of AFRL, the Doolittle Institute Team, and event participants are strongly encouraged to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

We reduced capacity in each room to 1/3 of its original capacity to accommodate social distancing guidelines. Although our facility is staffed, various members of the DI Team still work from home and/or socially distance themselves from guests and each other.


April 2, 2020

Facility Closures

In compliance with Florida Governor Ron Desantis’s Stay-at-Home Executive Order Number 20-91 announced April 1, 2020, the Doolittle Institute will be closed for business from Friday, April 3 – Thursday, April 30, 2020. During this time, all employees, contractors, temp-to-hires and interns will work from home and our facility will not be staffed.

Event Changes

  • For the foreseeable future: Donuts with DI
  • March 26: AFWiSE Brown Bag Lunch (postponed, no new date announced)
  • March 28: FIRST® LEGO® League State Invitational
  • April 20: Dr. Bruce McCabe’s talk, “Emerging Technologies to Change the World” (postponed until late summer 2020)
  • April 30: AFRL Inspire (postponed until fall 2020)
  • May 19-21: AFOSR Molecular Dynamics and Theoretical Chemistry Program Review (postponed, no new date announced)

At this time, Weapons Pitch Day and TH!NK SBIR Day are planned as one event on June 3 as if they will be an in-person event,  however we are also considering converting these to virtual events.


March 26, 2020 Update

Facility Closures

Effective 8:00 A.M. Wednesday, March 18 and until further notice, the Doolittle Institute will operate with minimal on-site staffing. Doolittle Institute team members are encouraged to work from home and minimize contact with others. A minimum of two (2) Doolittle Institute staff will still be present at the facility during normal working hours (8:00 A.M.- 5:00 P.M., Monday-Friday) to oversee the facility and support any AFRL personnel who chose to telework or conduct meetings here. Meetings conducted in our facility will be limited to 10 people per room, and social distancing will be strongly encouraged. Hand washing and hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the building.

Event Changes

  • For the foreseeable future: Donuts with DI
  • March 26: AFWiSE Brown Bag Lunch (postponed, no new date announced)
  • March 28: FIRST® LEGO® League State Invitational
  • April 20: Dr. Bruce McCabe’s talk, “Emerging Technologies to Change the World” (postponed until late summer 2020)
  • April 30: AFRL Inspire (postponed until fall 2020)
  • May 19-21: AFOSR Molecular Dynamics and Theoretical Chemistry Program Review (postponed, no new date announced)

At this time, Weapons Pitch Day and TH!NK SBIR Day are still planned for June 3 and 4, respectively, as if they will be an in-person event,  however we are also considering converting these to virtual events or consolidating both events into a one-day, virtual event.


March 17, 2020

Facility Closures

Effective 8:00 A.M. Wednesday, March 18 through 5:00pm Friday, March 27, 2020, the Doolittle Institute will operate with minimal on-site staffing and staff is encouraged to work from home and minimize contact with others. A minimum of two (2) Doolittle Institute staff will be present at the facility during normal working hours (8:00 A.M.- 5:00 P.M., Monday-Friday) to oversee the facility and support any AFRL personnel who chose to telework or conduct meetings here.

Event Changes

These events were scheduled to be hosted at or managed by the Doolittle Institute. All DoD meetings, workshops, and working groups scheduled to be held at our facility through April 3, 2020 were cancelled. Please contact your event’s organizer if you are uncertain whether or not your event was canceled, postponed, or moved to a different location.

  • March 19 & 26: Donuts with DI
  • March 26: AFWiSE Brown Bag Lunch (postponed)
  • March 28: FIRST® LEGO® League State Invitational
  • April 20: Dr. Bruce McCabe’s talk, “Emerging Technologies to Change the World” (postponed)
  • April 30: AFRL Inspire (postponed to fall)
  • May 19-21: AFOSR Molecular Dynamics and Theoretical Chemistry Program Review (postponed)

At this time, Weapons Pitch Day is still planned for June 3 as if it will be an in-person event,  however we are also looking into the option of virtual attendance in case the pandemic is still making its rounds.

FIRST® teams advance to Regional Championships

FIRST volunteers at the Doolittle Institute banner

Twenty-four FIRST® LEGO® League teams qualified to advance to the Regional Championship in Tallahassee, Florida.

The Regional Championship will be held at Lawton Chiles High School on Saturday, February 22, 2020 from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Members of the public are invited to attend as spectators, or to learn more about joining a FIRST® team. The best time frame to watch the students in action is from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

FIRST® LEGO® Leagues teach Kindergarten through twelfth grade students hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, self-confidence, team building, critical thinking, and presentation skills. The theme-based challenges solve a real-world problem, such as space exploration, municipal development and planning, or biological engineering. This year, FIRST® LEGO® League teams participated in the City Shapers Challenge. Students researched a civil engineering problem; designed, built, tested and programmed robots using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® technology; and completed an obstacle course-like mission.

The teams qualifying to advance are:

  • STEMM Swarm
  • Under Construction
  • DMS NXT GEN
  • Gorillabots
  • Mr. Fitz
  • Saturn Ninjas
  • Thunderbots
  • Digital Spirits
  • Lionbots
  • Freeport Engineers
  • Seaside Robosharks
  • JJELRET75
  • Lego Maniacs
  • All Stars
  • Techno Warriors
  • MAD T3CH5
  • Holy Nativity Octobotics
  • Surfside
  • Patronis Pilots1
  • Spartronics
  • Bruner Botz
  • Official City Seals
  • One Step Ahead
  • BOTS

The 24 teams advancing to the Regional Championship vie for seven advancement bids to the FIRST LEGO League State Championship in Niceville, Florida; one advancement bid to FIRST LEGO League Razorback Open Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkanasas; and one Advancement Bid to SESI FIRST LEGO League International Open in Rio De Janiero, Brazil.

The Doolittle Institute proudly manages the FIRST® LEGO® League, FIRST® LEGO® League Junior, and FIRST® Tech Challenge Northwest Florida Region competitions and expos, preparing today’s students to be tomorrow’s STEM workforce.

The Doolittle Institute, an AFRL Innovation Institute, supports the Air Force Research Labs 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.

Doolittle Institute, AFLCMC win Small Team of the Quarter for Hypersonics Pitch Day

Hypersonics Pitch Day welcome banner with U.S. Airforce at the Doolittle Institute 2

Niceville, FL (4 February 2020) – The Doolittle Institute-AFLCMC team won Best Small Team of the Quarter from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) Armament Directorate for the inaugural U.S. Air Force Hypersonics Pitch Day.

The AFLCMC Armament Directorate selects winners each quarter of the year, and the Hypersonics Pitch Day team won for the 4th quarter of 2019. Since the team won at the Eglin Air Force Base level, the team qualifies to compete against other Air Force bases in the AFLCMC across the nation. The team included members from the Doolittle Institute, AFLCMC Armament Directorate, the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate, and the 96th Test Wing. Except for the Doolittle Institute, all organizations are under the Air Force Materiel Command.

Working alongside the AFLCMC Armament Directorate, the Doolittle Institute provided planning services, marketing and graphic design, event hosting, and execution of the inaugural Hypersonics Pitch Day. Pitch Days are the new way the Air Force awards Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts and funding. Businesses pitch their ideas for the Air Force in a 5-minute presentation and find out immediately if they’ve won. Over $5.25 million in Small Business Innovation Research funds was awarded to seven small businesses.

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 conducting your own Air Force Pitch Day, please contact the Doolittle Institute at (850) 226-4383 or email us at info@doolittleinstitute.org.

University Day: Call for Abstracts

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The Doolittle Institute invites researchers to submit abstracts for our first University Day. Submissions will be reviewed by the Air Force Research Lab Munitions Directorate’s Core Technical Competency leads.

Over the course of May 13, 2020, University Day will cover up to four topics. Presenters will be selected for each Core Technical Competency area of interest, and more topics may be released as they are cleared. Each topic discussed will consist of an abstract presentation and a poster session. Those who aren’t selected to present may be asked to display a poster related to the topic.

The topic areas are:

  • Survivable electronics:  The Air Force seeks innovative materials, technologies and/or processes to increase the operating regime for fuze electronics in extreme environments (shock, vibration and thermal).
  • Robust measurement equipment for high frequency vibrations: The Air Force seeks innovative ideas for both laboratory and on-board flight test instrumentation to measure high frequency vibrations (>1 kHz) in flight vehicles and ordnance systems.
  • Tactical test bed for active imaging: The Air Force seeks innovative approaches to acquiring data for active imaging technologies.
  • Nano-photonics: The Air Force seeks innovative solutions to miniaturize and increase the performance of sensing and communication systems.

Abstracts are due April 10, 2020. Submissions should be in Word doc or PDF format, include no more than 250 words, and one figure or image. References do not count towards the word limit. Please send submissions to innovation@doolittleinstitute.org. Invitations will be sent to selected participants after April 17, 2020.

Some of the potential opportunities for selected presenters include:

  • Sponsored research
  • Fellowships/Summer scientist programs at AFRL/RW
  • Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA)
  • Educational Partnership Agreement (EPA)

The Doolittle Institute may provide funding to assist qualified presenters in travel expenses if your work is selected.

 

We’re Hiring in Niceville, FL

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The Doolittle Institute, an AFRL Innovation Institute, supports the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate by working to license and commercialize AFRL 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 of Innovation Hubs. We have several opportunities for collaborative and energetic candidates to join our team.

Technology Transfer Program Manager

An integral member of the Doolittle Institute Team, the Technology Transfer Program Manager works closely with AFRL personnel, businesses, universities, and regional and state-funded economic development programs. In collaboration with the AFRL Office of Research & Technology Application (ORTA), the Technology Transfer Program Manager will identify AFRL technology transfer opportunities, facilitate AFRL technology transfer agreements and establish partnerships that accelerate the transfer and commercialization of AFRL technology. Bachelor’s Degree or high is required, plus the ability to obtain SECRET clearance.

Apply Here for the Technology Transfer Program Manager Position

Deputy Director

The Deputy Director works closely with the Director of the Doolittle Institute and others to create a high-performing culture and operational excellence to support and strengthen the Air Force Research Lab at Eglin AFB. This critical position carries a high degree of visibility and requires close collaboration with team members. The Deputy Director is a passionate professional who can deliver results in a fast-paced environment. Ideal candidates should have corporate and/or government leadership experience, small business start-up experience, and profit & loss responsibilities with a successful history of experience in emerging S&T areas. Bachelor’s degree desired and prior military service is a bonus, but candidates must be able to obtain SECRET clearance.

  • Posting for this position has been paused.

Training Coordinator

The Training Coordinator will work closely with the AFRL/RW Enterprise Learning Officer and AFRL/RW STEM Education Outreach to support both current and STEM Workforce Development efforts. With an eye toward executing high quality learning experiences, the Training Coordinator will serve as primary interface between the Doolittle Institute and Workforce Development consultants and instructors.

  • Posting for this position has been paused.

$5.25M Awarded During Inaugural Hypersonics Pitch Day

Blaine Pellicore, VP of Defense at Ursa Major Technologies, Inc., delivered a publicly cleared version of the company’s presentation to an audience including Air Force leadership, other small businesses, academia, industry, and venture capitalists during the U.S. Air Force’s inaugural Hypersonics Pitch Day. Ursa Major Technologies was among the seven businesses who won SBIR Phase II funding.

The Doolittle Institute hosted the inaugural Hypersonics Pitch Day on behalf of the U.S. Air Force on Thursday, November 7. The collaboration between the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Armament Systems Development Division, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Arnold Engineering Development Complex awarded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contracts to the most viable solutions for SBIR Topic 19.2-001 Open Innovation call.

The congressionally mandated SBIR program injects funding into U.S.-based small businesses who wish to research and develop products, services, and technologies with the federal government. The highly competitive program enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides a profit incentive when their technologies are commercialized.

Pitch Days are one way the Air Force selects businesses and awards SBIR contracts. These contracts are awarded in three phases. Phase I proves a concept. Phase II prototypes the technologies found feasible in Phase I. Phase III work derives from, extends, or completes efforts made under prior funding agreements under the SBIR/STTR program. This is the commercialization phase and the ultimate goal of each SBIR/STTR effort.

The Air Force invited nine small businesses to each “pitch” their solutions directly to a judging panel in proprietary 5-minute presentations. The panel, which included chairman Lt Gen Luke Richardson, asked questions and deliberated for five minutes, totaling 15 minutes for each pitch opportunity.

For these Phase I businesses to win Phase II funding, the Air Force evaluated the businesses’ proposed solutions on the soundness of their ideas, technical merit, innovation, and incremental progress toward the SBIR Topic 19.2 solution. Each winning business signed Phase II contracts valued up to $750,000. This funding will help the small businesses jump start a prototype

Over $5.25 million dollars was awarded to seven companies in less than three hours. Those that earned Phase II contracts were Advanced Silicon Group; Fourth State Communications, LLC; GoHypersonics, Inc.; Powdermet, Inc.; Spectral Energies, LLC; UES, Inc.; and Ursa Major Technologies, Inc. In addition to the Phase II contracts, these businesses received invitations to compete for Phase III contracts in the first national pitch day, Pitch Bowl, scheduled for March 2020 in Washington, D.C.

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 the Doolittle Institute, please contact us at (850) 226-4383 or info@doolittleinstitute.org.

Two Viable Concepts Generated in SBIR Kickoff Sprint

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The Doolittle Institute facilitated two SBIR Kickoff Sprints by modifying the framework of Google Venture’s Design Sprint methodology, producing two viable SBIR Phase II concepts in just three days.

Two SBIR Phase I companies, Lynntech and Creare, participated in the simultaneous SBIR Sprints. Each company received the same information and requirements, then separated into teams. They each received access to a SBIR contact, the same number of subject matter experts, a Doolittle Institute facilitator, and an AFRL technical point of contact. Members of AFRL Munitions Directorate (AFRL/RW) and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) served as the technical points of contact.

The companies responded to SBIR Topic AF191-076: advanced power supplies, but instead of using the Sprint to produce a prototype, the Doolittle Institute’s Innovation and Collaboration Principal Laura Rakas modified the traditional Design Sprint methodology and facilitated the teams to concept generation, or ideas to prototype.

“SBIR topics can be vague, and sometimes the awarded companies don’t have a complete understanding of the SBIR requirements. The SBIR Kickoff Sprint helped the companies define the problem and guided them to a better understanding of what a viable Phase II concept looks like,” said Rakas. Through her facilitation techniques, the companies developed a work scope, arranged priorities, developed an implementation plan, and set expectations for Phase II.

The SBIR Kickoff Sprint condensed months of work into just three days and resulted in two technical concepts ready for prototyping. The companies–and the Air Force–concluded the Sprints with a better solution to a complex Air Force problem. AFRL/RW technical point of contact Geremy Kleiser said he’d encourage SBIR Kickoff Sprints for future SBIR companies, and said that the up-front time spent on a SBIR Kickoff Sprint resulted in a higher return on investment, a more sustainable relationship with the companies, and more active engagement from the Air Force.

“There’s a difference in what makes sense on paper than when you actually go and do it. The SBIR Kickoff Sprint provided the companies an additional layer of technical base knowledge and broader peer review,” Kleiser said.

The traditional Design Sprint process, developed by Google Ventures, uses a highly structured, five-day process for solving tough problems, and offers a framework for focusing efforts, envisioning real-world solutions, testing, and prototyping.

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.

If you are a member of an AFRL Innovation Institute, the Air Force SBIR/STTR community, a DEFENSEWERX Innovation Hub or are an AFRL Technical Point of Contact interested in conducting your own SBIR Sprint, please contact the Doolittle Institute at (850) 842-4393 or email us at innovation@doolittleinstitute.org.

Inspire the Next Generation of Innovators

FIRST volunteers at the Doolittle Institute banner

Doolittle Institute proudly manages FIRST® Robotics for the 16 counties across the Florida Panhandle. Last year we serviced over 250 teams at over 25 events–and we are still growing! None of this is possible without our volunteers, and this is where you come into play. We are looking for those who desire to prepare the next generation of Scientists, Engineers, and Thinkers. On August 24, we will team up with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) to offer a to offer a volunteer training from 9AM – Noon at the UWF Research Engineering and Education Facility (REEF), 1350 N. Poquito Road, Shalimar, FL 32579.

There are 3 levels of events being held in the Panhandle with varying needs.

FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. (FLL Jr)

Events for FLL Jr are minimally competitive for K-4th grade students. These events typically last 2-4 hours, and may be held on weekday evenings or Saturdays. The primary volunteer role at these events is that of a Reviewer. A Reviewer is tasked with interviewing teams of up to 6 students and filling out a simple rubric.

FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL)

Events for FLL step up the competition for 4th-8th grade students. These events are full day events 6-8 hours, and held on Saturdays. The primary roles at these events are that of Referee or Judge. A referee studies the rules of the robot game and then officiates the 2 and a half minute rounds, filling out a scoresheet at the end. A judge studies the challenge documents, and then joins a panel of other judges to hear presentations from teams of up to 10 students and then fill out rubrics. Judges then convene to determine awards for teams.

FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC)

Events for FTC again step up the competition for 7th-12th grade students. These events are full day events 6-8 hours, and held on Saturdays. The primary roles are Referee, Inspector or Judge. A Referee studies the game for the season and then officiates at the events. (It is best if a referee commits to the season for consistency.) An Inspector studies the rules of the robot build and performs inspections throughout the day. A Judge functions at the final Championship event, and reviews the engineering notebooks and joins a panel of judges to interview a team of up to 15 students.

If any of these roles interest you, please join us on the August 24 for training.

Register via this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C9K26MJ

The Doolittle Institute, an AFRL Innovation Institute, supports the Air Force Research Labs 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.

 

AFRL Scholars presents the First Warrior Panel

Lt Col Eric Axt, MSgt Christopher Hopfensperger and TSgt Barrett Williams [From left to right]

Summer 2019 has been a notable session for 63 AFRL Scholars participating in 10-12 week internships in the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Munitions Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Scholars, whose academic levels range from high school to Ph.D. and who represent 16 states, 36 colleges and universities, and 4 high schools traveled to Eglin Air Force Base to work on STEM-focused topics in the lab this summer. For most, this is their first internship at AFRL or with the DoD. For many, it is their first internship ever.

During a brainstorming session in the early planning stages for a jam-packed summer, AFRL Scholars Program Administration converged on a stimulating consideration: How can AFRL Scholars connect the relativity of their work to the big picture in advancing warfighting technology? We knew that in order to dig deeper into that question we needed to go to the source: the warfighter.

AFRL Scholar, Peter Guarner asking the panel for insight as users of warfighting technology.
AFRL Scholar, Peter Guarner asking the panel for insight as users of warfighting technology.

On June 20, 2019, the first annual Warrior Panel was hosted at the Doolittle Institute in Niceville, FL.  Two seasoned Combat Controllers (MSgt Christopher Hopfensperger and TSgt Barrett Williams of the 720th Special Tactics Group, Hurlburt Field, FL) joined fellow panelist Lt Col Eric M. Axt, Director of Staff for the 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, FL, where they took the stage to answer questions that do not have easy answers. The panelists acknowledged AFRL’s contributive technology and how they were well-equipped for the battlefield.

The panelists spoke to the need for technology to be high functioning, sleek, agile and dependable. The Shangri-La Auditorium filled with a dynamic audience of AFRL scholars, mentors and fellow RW S&E’s who eagerly listened to the distinct perspectives from AFRL technology end users on the ways that technology has been essential for success of a mission, and about how the warfighter more often than not opts for a simpler, dependable technology. The AFRL developed Android Tactical Assault Kit, or ATAK, app was mentioned as a technology “win” that gave great capabilities for situational awareness on the battlefield.  Technology advancements that the panelists highlighted would be beneficial were areas such as extending battery life for radios and the need for radio communications to be unified among DoD branches. Candidness from the panel left the audience with profound understanding of human factors and the involvement of technology end users into the preliminary stages of development, to more adequately ensure design and capabilities meet the needs of the warfighter before the R&D process progresses too far into development.

Panelists were able to further interact and collaborate with 44 scholars over following the event. Intern Kelsey Johnson, a sophomore majoring in Aerospace Engineering at The University of Alabama and working with mentor Dr. Chi Mai on High-Speed Weapon Aerodynamic & Flight Characterization this summer, stated, “Honestly, this was an amazing event. It’s not often you get to see the impact of your research on the warfighter. I really enjoyed hearing their responses to our questions.”

Post event, one AFRL mentor provided feedback stating, “It was a good opportunity to discuss customer needs,” referring to the development of technology that AFRL specializes for the warfighter.

AFRL Scholars Program Administration will continue to provide this event in future summers. The next opportunity to request an AFRL Scholar will be in August 2019. Visit the Connect website to register as a mentor: https://afrlscholars.usra.edu/connect/index.cfm?new_acct.

For more information about the AFRL Scholars Program, please contact the program coordinator, Melissa Corning at 832-986-7683, AFRL-Scholars@usra.edu or http://afrlscholars.usra.edu.  For more information on the Doolittle Institute contact us at (850) 842-4393 or email us at stem@doolittleinstitute.org.

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.

AFRL Scholars Impress One of The Most Impressive Scholars

Dr. Story Musgrave poses with all 63 of the AFRL Scholars. Photo by the Doolittle Institute.

On July 24, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Scholars wrapped up their internship program at the Doolittle Institute with an awards ceremony, keynote speech from American physician and retired NASA astronaut Dr. Story Musgrave, and poster session.

According to Melissa Corning, the program’s coordinator, this year’s cohort of researchers saw 63 participants—the second-largest and one of the most diverse groups on record. “Of the Scholars in the program, 32% are underrepresented in STEM,” said Corning.

Corning also said the Scholars spanned all academic levels: six high school students, 32 undergraduates, 13 Master’s students, 11 Ph.D. candidates, and one professional educator. They spent ten weeks conducting hands-on research alongside AFRL Mentors.

Cesar Lopez Zelaya received an Outstanding Scholar Award.

Three Scholars received an Outstanding Scholar award. Those students who demonstrated excellent examples of character, dedication, and initiative were Ryder Swan, David Yang, and Cesar Lopez Zelaya. Twenty-eight Scholars presented their research in a poster session, including Zelaya, who received the highest score for the Outstanding Scholar Award.

Dr. Story Musgrave recognized the potential in the Scholars as well. With six different graduate degrees and 21 honorary doctorate degrees, the six-time NASA astronaut, test pilot, and U.S. Marine is one of the most accomplished and formally educated astronauts to date.

“This was outrageous! I am fantastically impressed by these AFRL Scholars,” Dr. Musgrave told the Doolittle Institute. “These kids know how to think; they know the trajectory of life.” He emphasized that the cohort values a key driver in finding success: the pursuit of exploration.

The Scholars also nominated Outstanding Mentors. The cohort chose two of 39 AFRL mentors who had positively influenced their research, summer experience, education, and career decisions. Scholars gave special recognition to Dr. Chi Mai and Dr. Kevin Brink, both research engineers at AFRL Munitions Directorate on Eglin Air Force Base.

The AFRL Scholars Program offers stipend-paid summer internship opportunities to students pursuing STEM degrees. The participating AFRL Directorates then select the most promising candidates from hundreds of universities. The program matches each directorate’s area of interest with students’ majors, enriching their academic experience and preparing them for careers in STEM-related research, development, and application.

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 the AFRL Scholars Program, please contact the program coordinator, Melissa Corning at 832-986-7683, AFRL-Scholars@usra.edu or http://afrlscholars.usra.edu.  For more information on the Doolittle Institute contact us at (850) 842-4393 or email us at stem@doolittleinstitute.org.

UF-led consortium selected to pioneer new autonomy capabilities for U.S. combat resources

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The University of Florida (UF), Duke University (Duke), the University of Texas at Austin (UTA) and the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) were recently awarded an “Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Center of Excellence (CoE) for Assured Autonomy in Contested Environments.” The consortium will collaborate with the Munitions (RW), Sensors (RY), and Space Vehicles (RV) Directorates within the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

AFOSR selected the UF-led team as the single winner of this prestigious Center of Excellence from among several elite groups competing across the nation. The sponsorship will cover an initial two-year period of $2 million, with optional extensions up to a total of six years and $6 million dollars. Frederick A. Leve, Ph.D., program officer for the Dynamics and Controls Program at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, said, “This Center of Excellence is the scientific embodiment of basic research for assured and trustworthy autonomy of the U.S. Air Force’s future cyber physical systems operating in contested environments.”

Dr. Warren Dixon, Newton C. Ebaugh Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at the UF Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, will lead the Center’s efforts. Dr. Dixon and his colleagues from UF, Duke, UTA, and UCSC will focus on fundamental research to enable cyber secure robotic systems with new capabilities.

To enable these capabilities, research breakthroughs are required in the mathematics of learning, game theory, optimization, automatic control, sensing, communications, networking, and resilience to cyber effects. The team is composed of researchers in aerospace, computer, electrical, and mechanical engineering to tackle the diverse areas of expertise required.

Looking to the results of the center’s research, Dixon said, “Key innovations will include analysis, design and synthesis of tools that enable autonomous mission execution despite uncertainty within complex dynamics while still accounting for the integrity and privacy of information on computationally constrained resources.”

Assured autonomy exists when automated, machine-intelligent technology is ensured to complete missions despite the complex adversarial environment within which it would work.  “Autonomous systems must execute high-level mission plans with verifiable assurances despite uncertain adversarial environments where the integrity and availability of sensor information and communications are challenged,” Dixon explained.

Assured Autonomy tips the scales toward deterrence

The military views assured autonomy as an element of the Department of Defense’s “Third Offset Strategy.” Autonomy offsets an adversary’s advantages by allowing scaled force projection while keeping people out of harm’s way. This offset strategy should motivate contestants to opt for negotiation strategies rather than engagement.

The AFOSR Center of Excellence will be the first to look at assured autonomy in an adversarial environment. The Center will function as a hub where ideas and people are freely engaged, and exchanges flow between military laboratories and universities. Participating universities and military laboratories will jointly publish the research results.  Further, a strong workforce development component may see university graduates becoming future military researchers and technologists. “As we think about next-generation conflicts, we need next-generation engineers who know how to think about responding to them, engineering original designs for new autonomous agents that make them more resilient,” Dixon said.

The Center of Excellence will focus on the development of robotic systems that make the best possible decisions despite uncertainties that may occur as a result of denied or corrupted information caused by an adversarial environment. Research topics that members of the Center will study include:

  • New mathematical theories and strategies that enable the integration of logic-based decisions with dynamic robotic vehicles
  • New machine adaptation and learning development to enable real-time agility in the presence of complex adversarial environments
  • New network (Cyber Physical Systems/Internet of Things (IoT)) methods that enable teams of robotic agents to collaborate over resilient networks and cloud computing while also compromising adversaries’ capabilities
  • New methods that enable resiliency to cyber effects, including designed resiliency, monitoring techniques, and flexible computation in the presence of an attack
  • New methods to protect safety and mission-critical information through privacy in computation, communication, and task execution

The Center of Excellence will also be tasked to develop next-generation autonomous technologies with cyber resiliency and privacy engineered into the design, outcomes that will have widespread impact on commercial and industrial robotic systems, including automated systems in our homes and transportation systems. Additionally, with the rapid advancement of the Internet of Things as well as the ever-growing autonomous vehicle industry, privacy, security, guaranteed performance and safety have become major concerns in our everyday lives. As such, any advances for assured autonomy in contested environments will have a significant impact in non-contested environments, particularly in the areas of privacy and independence.

TH!NK SBIR Event Attendees Thought BIGGER

People using a VR Headset at the Doolittle Institute

The Doolittle Institute held its third Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) event on Thursday, May 16, 2019. The annual event seeks to connect and advance innovation, inventors, and entrepreneurship through technology showcases, one-on-one meetings with Air Force program managers, business-to-business interactions, and professional training. Gulf Power provided lunch for attendees.

The Doolittle Institute brought in Jim Greenwood of Greenwood Consulting Group to lead two SBIR-focused workshops. Greenwood, a nationally recognized and experienced SBIR consultant, led a proposal writing workshop and a cost accounting workshop.

Over 40 organizations registered for the TH!NK SBIR event, including members of the Air Force, the University of West Florida, and local small businesses, including aspirational and experienced SBIR companies. The technology showcase included posters and prototypes with technologies from companies like Vertex Solutions, Cosmic Dynamics Corp, Airborne Systems, Tunnel VUE, PrivOps, and Wi-Sense, LLC.

Among the companies in attendance was ATA Engineering, Inc., whose representatives participated in the technology showcase with their modeling and simulation software, COMPAS. The invention, which has a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 5 to 6, will aid the design and analysis of hypersonic vehicles by capturing stress concentrations and structural weaknesses in a vehicle early in the development cycle, thereby reducing the risk of a critical design flaw remaining unknown until after the failure of a flight test.

ATA Engineering also attended the SBIR workshops and found the event valuable. “Jim Greenwood’s class was very informative, even for those of us who have been at it a while,” said Joshua Davis, ATA Engineering’s Vice President of Innovation. The engineering firm has a lot of SBIR experience and a technology which could be ready for a technology transition plan under the Air Force’s Commercial Readiness Program.

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 our SBIR events, please contact the Doolittle Institute at (850) 842-4393 or email us at info@doolittleinstitute.org.

Paid Summer Internship Opportunity

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If you are an outgoing, continuous learner with a positive attitude that has completed 25 or more credit hours in one of the program areas below, we encourage you to apply for a paid internship with the Doolittle Institute by sending a cover letter and resume to info@doolittleinstitute.org. This internship position will remain open until filled.

Working 30-40 hours/week, Doolittle Institute Interns will receive on the-job-training and experience through a variety of activities, catered to their degree program and interests. Program areas of interest with examples of skills to be learned and practiced while interning with us include:

      1. Business, Marketing & Entrepreneurship
        • Digital Marketing
          • Social Media
          • Web query forwarding, maintenance and analysis
          • Mailing list organization and maintenance
          • Website analytics
      2. General Business/Hospitality
        • Bookkeeping and record retention
        • Event planning and execution
        • Answer phones, greet, check in and guide visitors to their conference rooms
        • Stocking & inventory management
      3. Arts, Humanities, Communication & Design
        • Photography, videography and editing
        • Graphic Design
        • Event Production

2019 INTERNSHIP PERIOD: Monday, June 3-Friday, August 16

The Doolittle Institute, an AFRL Innovation Institute located in Niceville, Florida, was named in honor of James “Jimmy” Doolittle, commander of WWII’s historic Doolittle Raid. Modeled after the rapid innovation and problem solving necessary to modify and deploy B-25 bombers from aircraft carriers, DI provides Technology Transfer, Innovation + Collaboration and Workforce Development solutions for the Air Force Research Lab Munitions Directorate at Eglin AFB.

Advanced Munitions Technology Complex coming to AFRL

AMTC rendering courtesy of AFRL/RW

The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is constructing state-of-the-art facilities to ensure our war winning capabilities today and well into the future. On March 15, 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $75M MILCON contract to Hensel Phelps Construction Co. for the construction of the Advanced Munitions Technology Complex (AMTC). The AMTC provides new test capability and will modernize much of the outdated 1960s infrastructure by providing state-of-the-art facilities that enable safe and efficient munitions research. AFRL designed the AMTC as a modern, collaborative research space that gives scientist and engineers the ability to experiment with new explosive materials and integrate them into complex munition designs much more efficiently.

The AMTC will enable ordnance technologies to be integrated in ways they haven’t been before. For the first time, an entire ordnance system, which includes the warhead case, energetic materials and a fuze, will be developed simultaneously, allowing scientist and engineers to understand how each technology enhances the other. This concept maximizes the synergy between all the munition components and opens up the trade space for novel ordnance designs that will increase munition precision and tailorable effects.  This new generation of munitions will give the warfighter the ability to match the desired effect to a specific target, while minimizing collateral damage.

New technologies developed at the AMTC promise to reduce the size of munitions without sacrificing weapon effects.  These lighter munitions will allow next generation of aircraft, such as F-35 to carry more weapons, while giving the warfighter the ability to prosecute more targets with greater flexibility per sortie.  Finally, the AMTC is a unique facility that enables multi-disciplinary research that improves collaborative technology development opportunities.  The AMTC is truly a national asset that will enhance our nation’s ability to fight and win a war against any technologically advanced adversary.

TH!NK SBIR Event to Showcase SBIR/STTR Technologies

Two members of AFRL review a technology.

Lunch is sponsored by Gulf PowerThe Doolittle Institute invites business owners, members of our military bases, investors, and entrepreneurs to our vibrant facility for our second regional Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) event happening on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Over 40 companies registered for the TH!NK SBIR event, half of which will showcase technologies as posters, demos, or prototypes. Lunch, sponsored by Gulf Power, will be provided for all who register before May 8.

We encourage businesses and members of our military organizations review and ask questions about the ideas these SBIR/STTR companies are working on. Technologies at this year’s TH!NK SBIR event address a range of needs, some of which are:

Those attending the event will also have the opportunity join the Effective Proposal Writing Workshop or the Cost Accounting Workshop, each led by Jim Greenwood, a nationally recognized SBIR veteran and founder of Greenwood Consulting Group. Mr. Greenwood has a track record of helping new SBIR companies write effective and competitive proposals, having been active in the SBIR program since it began in 1982. He has assisted SBIR hopefuls with their proposals for NASA, NOAA, the EPA,  the Department of Homeland Security, and others.

During the first part of the day, Mr. Greenwood will cover the basics of SBIR/STTR, as well as a simple but effective 4 step process for developing a competitive Phase I proposal for submission to any agency. Later in the afternoon, he’ll segue into Government accounting and the Phase I cost proposal. Not only will you hear terms like allowability, indirect cost, F&A, and fee, but you will understand what they mean and why they are so important to not losing your investment on your SBIR/STTR project.

In addition to the workshops offered, the Doolittle Institute will also give away opportunities for businesses to advance their research or technologies. Thirty-five attendees will win a free proposal review from Jim Greenwood. Six other lucky participants will win a Commercial Readiness Program one-on-one with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Gavin Tovrea so they can discover strategies for launching their Phase II SBIR companies into Phase III. Air Force SBIR Program managers will also be available to answer companies’ questions.

Join us for this exciting event; TH!NK SBIR is sure to advance your knowledge of the SBIR program, expose you to available technologies, connect you to regional inventors, and open up collaboration opportunities. The event is free.

The Doolittle Institute, an AFRL Innovation Institute, supports the Air Force Research Labs 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.

Artists, Entrepreneurs, and Engineers Collaborate at IDE

Steve Millaway considers commercial opportunities for an AFRL technology at the 10 April 2019 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 techtransfer@doolittleinstitute.org.

ISO: External Sources for Innovation Workshop

Doolittle Institute's Non-traditional Input search

The Doolittle Institute is in search of broad, diverse, and non-traditional perspectives to shape the current and future research at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The next session is scheduled for February 12-13, 2019.

This multi-part workshop series will consist of experienced professionals working in small groups with a given opportunity statement. These small groups will brainstorm solutions among themselves, develop a solution or solutions, and then present their ideas to the rest of the cohort. Senior Air Force Research Laboratory leaders will use groups’ input to inform a long-term strategy for the future of air-delivered weapons.

This event is open to anyone and everyone interested. We will consider professionals from a range of industries, including Aerospace, Agriculture, Computer, Electrical Power, Petroleum + Gas, Automotive, Electronics, Steel, Mining, Telecommunications, Education, and the Arts. Each divergent collaboration workshop in the series will last one to two days.

We have limited funding available to offset the time and travel expenses of those selected.

To participate in one or more workshops, please complete the application below.

Introducing the Innovation Library

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In order to provide a wellspring for inspiration and creative thinking, the Doolittle Institute offers a new resource to personnel in the Air Force Research Lab Munitions Directorate, auxiliary groups on Eglin Air Force Base, and team members at the Doolittle Institute.

The Innovation Library offers these groups access to a wealth of reading material along the topics of technology, innovation, leadership, culture change, space, entrepreneurship, and creativity—plus inspirational novels and memoirs. In addition to book selections, the library’s magazine subscriptions will include magazines like Wired, the Harvard Business Review, and Offscreen; and unexpected selections such as Surfer, National Geographic, and Imbibe Magazines.

Do not seek efficiency to the detriment of exploration.“Passion for diversified knowledge spurs creativity and enables people to envision technology connections across different disciplines and industries,” says Carolyn Fries, Doolittle Institute Director.

“We offer all of AFRL/RW—whether staff member or researcher—strategies to increase happiness and productivity in their roles, inspire culture change, improve the overall workplace, and develop or transition new products to the marketplace,” Fries continued.

The Doolittle Institute outfitted the Innovation Library with comfortable seating located near the kitchen, where coffee and snacks are available. Guests can easily navigate between the library and kitchen to pour another cup of coffee or strike up a conversation, but the areas are not so close in proximity create a distraction.

The Doolittle Institute welcomes anyone with good ideas to submit other books or magazines they’d like to see included in our Innovation Library. Members of AFRL, auxiliary groups, and DI may check books out for approximately four weeks by bringing the item to the front desk.

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.

 

Innovation Forecast for 2019

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Get ready for an exciting year ahead at the Doolittle Institute! Last fall, our team huddle produced a calendar with an overview of themes or events happening at our facility through October 2019. Download our Innovation Forecast brochure to get a preview of each month’s TH!NK Thursday theme well in advance of the date.

The upcoming year’s TH!NK Thursday themes include Preventing Burnout & Maximizing Productivity (February), Lean & Agile Systems (March), our massive TH!NK Event (May), AFRL Poster Sessions (Summer), and University Days (October).

As in the past, we’ll host or facilitate Tech Sprints, Innovation Discovery Events, TH!NK Thursdays, and Donuts with DI. These events encourage collaborative problem-solving between industry, entrepreneurs, businesses, and the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate.

Check our website for more information about the exact date, time, and specific details or changes regarding each month as it approaches at http://www.doolittleinstitute.org/events. Registration will be required for all attendees.

Want our event calendar to come to you? No problem. Sign up for our newsletter to get the details about these events.

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 event participation, please contact the Doolittle Institute at (850) 226-4383 or email us at info@doolittleinstitute.org.

IDE helps identify Commercial Applications for AFRL/RW Inventions

Joshua Lentz presenting at the May 24 IDE.

The Doolittle Institute, in partnership with the Air Force Research Labs Munitions Directorate (AFRL/RW), invited entrepreneurs, inventors and researchers within AFRL to collaborate at an Innovation Discovery Event, or IDE on September 25, 2018.

“The process allows the technologist to ‘socialize’ their work,” said Dr. Michael Reilly, who facilitated the IDE, “meaning that they get a chance to see what outsiders think about where it might fit in the bigger worlds of technology and business. As a result, they can modify their research plans to maximize the impact going forward.”

During the Doolittle Institute’s IDE, there is no finding failure points; it’s visualizing the possibilities of the researcher’s accomplishments.

“The IDE is one of the few opportunities AFRL/RW scientists and engineers have to present their work to a non-hostile audience. Most tech presentations are presented to other technologists who—having been trained in the scientific method, where progress is made by poking holes in everything to see what can withstand harsh critical scrutiny—have never had the chance to talk to an audience that wasn’t trying to tear their tech apart,” Dr. Reilly continued.

Dr. Reilly challenged panelists to find specific uses for each invention, and then asked them to evaluate the invention’s potential commercial viability on three criteria: technical fit, value in its use, and how easy it would be to bring the technology to the market. Panelists identify several markets in which the researchers’ innovations could be incorporated, such as manufacturing, pest control, clothing, medicine and cosmetic surgery—and of course, military applications.

The Doolittle Institute, an AFRL Innovation Institute, supports the Air Force Research Labs 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 a future IDE or licensing a technology, please contact the Doolittle Institute at (850) 842-4393.

AFRL/RW Wins Excellence in Tech Transfer Award

AFRLRW Excellence group photo

Niceville, FL (25 September 2018) – The Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate (AFRL/RW) won a Federal Labs Consortium (FLC) Southeast Region 2018 Excellence in Technology Transfer award for their low-alloy, high-performance steel technology, AF96.

The Excellence in Technology Transfer Award recognizes employees of FLC Southeast Region member laboratories and non-laboratory staff who have accomplished outstanding work in the process of transferring federally developed technology. Employees of AFRL/RW receiving the award include Rachel Abrahams, Ph.D.; Sean Gibbons, Ph.D.; Captain Olawale Lawal, Ph.D.; Erik Sundberg, and Richard Harris.

Traditional alloys contain high amounts of nickel, tungsten, and/or cobalt, contributing significantly to the total cost and weight of the steel. AF96 Steel contains fewer expensive alloys and relies on special processing techniques to deliver high strength and toughness even at low temperatures (-40°F to -65°F).

Regional laboratories AFRL/RW competed against included organizations such as the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Energy; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). A total of over 60 federal labs and 300 federal facilities in nine states were eligible for this award.

The FLC presented these awards to the AF96 Steel Team at the 2018 Southeast-Midwest Regional Meeting on September 20, 2018 in Cocoa Beach, FL.

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 technology transfer, please contact the Doolittle Institute at (850) 842-4393.

What is Technology Transfer?

What Is T2?
What is Technology Transfer?
Learn about the process of tech transfer through the Doolittle Institute.

Technology Transfer is the process that brings inventions and ideas out of the research laboratory and puts them in the marketplace. The Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate conducts a wealth of basic research that not only supports our warfighters, but also contributes to the health of our economy.

TH!NK Event held for entrepreneurs, small business, startups

Doolittle Institute member talking to a person in the Doolittle Institute lobby 2

In an effort to foster robust economic growth, the Doolittle Institute hosted its Small Business + AFRL TH!NK Event on July 12, 2018 at its new Niceville facility. The Doolittle Institute invited the business and entrepreneurial communities to learn more about collaboration opportunities with the Air Force.

The day’s events included an overview of how the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is cutting the red tape for collaborators, tips for composing Small Business Innovation Research proposals, an introduction to the Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF), and an exciting peek into AFRL’s Tech Warrior. Attendees also learned what entrepreneurial resources are available to them in the northwest Florida region.

An impressive variety of entrepreneurs and innovators participated in the TH!NK Event, including Rachel Campbell, COO and CFO at VisSidus Technologies, Inc.

“It has been interesting to learn how AFRL has been trying to remove the barriers for small businesses to work with them,” said Campbell, whose company received a SBIR contract with the US Army in 2016, and has currently been selected for a STTR contract with NASA.

All presentations in the TH!NK Event were live streamed on YouTube, and a rebroadcast of the event may be found on the Doolittle Institute’s YouTube channel. The presenters made their slides available to attendees, and can be downloaded here.

The Doolittle Institute, an AFRL Innovation Institute, supports the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate (AFRL/RW) 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 innovation or collaboration event, please join our mailing list.

Air Force partners with University of Illinois for munitions research

Innovating and Commercializing Technologies that support the Warfighters banner

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA – The Air Force is working with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to develop scientific instrumentation that can withstand extreme detonation environments.

The work will enable a better understanding of the early-time post-detonation chemical cascade.

Through an educational partnership agreement, scientists with the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate are serving as visiting scientists at the university to conduct research of interest to the Air Force.  An educational partnership agreement – one type of technology transfer agreement – is between a defense laboratory and an educational institution for the purpose of encouraging and enhancing study in scientific disciplines at all levels of education.

Munitions Directorate research chemist, Dr. Stephanie Johnson, worked at the university conducting research experiments that will lead to a better understanding of early-time post-detonation chemical cascade, an area of study where more information is needed.

“This research was conducted in an academic setting and leveraged several (university) labs and researchers not previously available,” said Johnson. “There is a synergy within an academic research group that provides a free-flow approach to problem solving and experiment design.”

The agreement also provides a valuable learning experience for students, allowing them to get hands-on experience with Air Force research.

University students from the Department of Mechanical Engineering Science were permitted to observe the experiments and review the results of the data analysis. Johnson also served as a mentor to the students and academic program.

“The students from this university are among the best and brightest in the world and bring cutting edge research, ideas and innovation to their future employers,” said Johnson. “Having access to these types of students is vital for the USAF technology and engineering development.”

The agreement is valid for 5 years, leaving open the possibility of additional research collaborations.  Under the agreement, it is also possible for university faculty and students to access directorate equipment and technical expertise to work on AFRL relevant research.

For more information on educational partnership agreements and/or other Air Force technology transfer agreements, please contact the Air Force Technology Transfer Program office at 937-904-9830 or af.techtransfer@us.af.mil.