Senior leaders collaborative partnerships highlighted at AFRL-AFIT Summit

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Leadership from the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Air Force Research Laboratory came together on Nov. 8 to discuss current collaborations and plans for the upcoming year. 

 

Jack Blackhurst, AFRL director of the Plans and Programs Directorate and director of the Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Directorate, opened the meeting and provided an overview of the summit’s agenda.

 

He said the summit is an opportunity for the two organizations and leadership to come together each year to assess what has transpired over the last year, share some of the successes and discuss new objectives.

 

Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry Jr., AFRL commander, provided AFRL welcome remarks.

 

“This is an important meeting for the relationship between AFRL and AFIT,” McMurry said.  “What has become clear to me is that we need to make sure the research and the work we are doing is based on sound rigorous thinking - to use intellectual rigor behind what we are doing. I don’t know how we can do that without intellectual capital [that AFIT provides] so AFRL has got to look at how we do our work, especially in multi domain operations, autonomy, hypersonics and directed energy,” McMurry said.

 

We have a great history together with AFIT and need to keep this momentum going,” McMurry said. 

 

Dr. Todd Stewart, AFIT director and chancellor, continued the summit with his insights on AFIT’s partnership with AFRL.

 

“AFRL builds hardware and software -- AFIT’s part of the partnership is brainware,” Stewart said. “We all have to work together to solve the capability and multi-domain challenges that we face. At AFIT, we help enable solutions for AFRL and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, and we are all supported by Wright-Patterson AFB.”

 

“Wright-Patterson AFB is the Air Force’s center of innovation, and working together gives us unmatched synergy and capability,” said Stewart. “Because of these partnerships, our students, administrators and faculty have access to great resources, including the intellectual resources at AFRL.

When we conduct research, we are providing students with educational experiences. Learning by doing, they demonstrate what they have been taught in the classroom and then they apply it to real-world significant problems that in many cases are challenges identified by AFRL.”

 

Next on the summit’s agenda Dr. Heidi Ries, AFIT dean for research, reviewed the joint battle rhythm and the AFRL and AFIT Memorandum of Understanding. In addition, she reviewed the current research agreements with AFIT such as research support with AFOSR, equipment sharing, and sponsorship for space and rocket propulsion research.

 

Ries also reviewed the 2016 fiscal year’s funding. Out of the $25M total sponsored research funding received for AFIT, $7.9 million of the funding was from AFRL. 

 

The summit continued with a briefing on the new AFRL strategic development planning and experimentation directorate. The office will be responsible for supporting Air Force development planning efforts and conducting experimentation efforts that will result in planning choices for senior Air Force level resource decisions.  

 

Additional briefings were provided by AFRL on data to decisions and multi-domain engagements.

 

The summit then shifted to briefings provided by AFIT faculty.

 

AFIT professor Dr. John Raquet briefed the attendees on the autonomy certificate program that is now available at AFIT.  Dr. Raquet said autonomy has become major interest in the Department of Defense and especially in AFRL.

 

AFIT currently has M.S. and Ph.D programs related to autonomy and the autonomy certificate program is recommended for AFRL researchers and AFIT M.S. and Ph.D students. At this time, the course is offered in residence only. The autonomy certificate program has 29 students currently enrolled with 10 of those students being from AFRL.

 

Further AFIT briefings were provided on directed energy including an international engagement, hypersonics initiative and on the integrated master’s program.

 

The summit came to a close with a 2017 initiatives review.

  

AFRL will be conducting a similar partnership summit with Air University on Nov. 30.