Warfare centers connect for innovation jam at Weapons Division

Warfare centers connect for innovation jam at Weapons DivisionBy STACIE BAILEY

NAWCWD Public Affairs

Seven warfare centers responded when the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division sent out an invitation to jam. The challenge: address a joint emergent operational need.

On Jan. 4-5 more than 70 participants representing Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport, NU WC Keyport, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Port Hueneme Division, and NSWC Corona Division gathered at China Lake for the first Innovation Jam.

“These events are important because the times demand enhanced collaboration,” said NAWCWD’s Howard McCauley, senior scientist and director of Weapons, Air Warfare/Surface Warfare Prototyping. “We can’t operate in a bubble and expect success. We need to reach out broadly and frequently or be left behind.”

On Day 1, the group was briefed on the fleet’s Counter-Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-SUAS) needs and given time to brainstorm ideas. One by one, attendants pitched a total of 48 ideas, after which they were allowed to review one another’s ideas and form teams around the most promising concepts. In the end, 10 teams were formed to further develop their ideas and to create proposals for the Navy’s Rapid Prototyping, Experimentation and Demonstration initiative.

“The collective brain trust we marshalled for the two-day event is a shining example of our innovative approach to solving problems,” said Kelli Cutts of NAWCWD’s innovation team.

“One of the things I liked the most about this event was the focus everyone had on getting to an effective solution quickly. No one worried about whose idea belonged to whom. It was all about protecting our country and the men and women who serve it.”

Reconvening on Day 2, the teams completed submission forms and developed quad charts to help them flesh out their proposed solutions. Each team was allowed four minutes to make a final pitch to a panel of senior technologists. The top three teams were awarded the Harmony Award for the best overall pitch, the High Note Award for most innovative and a Conductor’s Award as an honorable mention from the panel.

“The groups benefitted from co-inspiring each other and building great relationships,” said Richard Chairez, research and engineering associate technology officer. “I can see opportunities to hold these types of events in the future. Depending on what the need is, if we think there’s a WD-dependent or heavy role in it, we might lead the charge to hold another innovation jam like this.”

The event at China Lake, which gained inspiration from a previous “Hackathon” at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport, coincided with an Innovation Jam at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgreen Division giving way to the titles of the West Coast Jam and the East Coast Jam.

Through more events like this and the upcoming development of a secure collaboration center, WD hopes to help the fleet keep its decisive edge.

“In order to develop a true culture of innovation where our business practices, tools and behaviors deliver cutting-edge technologies and innovations, we need to stay decisively on top technologically,” said McCauley. “This is not going to be easy.”

Pictured: Young scientists and engineers participate in the recent Counter-Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Innovation Jam. -- U.S. Navy photo by Paul Kakert

Story First Published: 2017-02-24