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By bringing together military service officers and engineering and science researchers in a pilot program this summer, the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will take a first step toward developing a new method for revolutionizing future defense technologies—a method based on the interaction of people who normally work from different agendas and perspectives.
"The Clark School, by virtue of its proximity to and close relations with major federal agencies, is well prepared to assist DARPA in establishing a new basis for creating the advanced technologies our armed services will need in the future," states Clark School Dean Darryll Pines, whose office will administer the pilot program. "We are building a new way for military and academic personnel to interact that will challenge both and derive innovations neither would achieve by working alone."
The pilot program will support four postdoctoral researchers as DARPA Academic Fellows. They will spend three months full-time at DARPA interacting with their counterparts from the military, called DARPA Service Chief Fellows, as well as with DARPA program managers; they will also visit with current DARPA technology performers (academic and industrial labs). Through this process they will work with military officers to conduct a limited and focused research project with specific deliverables; form professional relationships with those officers and learn about their perspectives and needs; gain an understanding of DARPA technology development efforts and impending changes; and become "ambassadors" who can return to their campuses with in-depth knowledge of DARPA projects and requirements and in the future return to DARPA to serve as program managers.
The Clark School will administer the program in collaboration with DARPA and regional universities. Each participating academic fellow must have earned a doctoral degree in science or engineering or a closely related field, be a U.S. citizen, and be clearable to "secret" level.
About A. James Clark School of Engineering
The Clark School of Engineering, situated on the rolling, 1,500-acre University of Maryland campus in College Park, Md., is one of the premier engineering schools in the U.S., with graduate and undergraduate education programs ranked in or near the Top 20. In 2010, the Clark School was ranked 13th in the world by the Institute of Higher Education and Center for World-Class Universities in its Academic Ranking of World Universities. Three faculty members affiliated with the Clark School were inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2010.
The school, which offers 13 graduate programs and 12 undergraduate programs, including degree and certification programs tailored for working professionals, is home to one of the most vibrant research programs in the country. The Clark School garnered research awards of $171 million in the last year. With emphasis in key areas such as energy, nanotechnology and materials, bioengineering, robotics, communications and networking, life cycle and reliability engineering, project management, intelligent transportation systems and aerospace, the Clark School is leading the way toward the next generations of engineering advances.
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