The Navy announced six more Naval Expeditions Agility Office (NavalX) Tech Bridges on Tuesday, doubling the total to 12 offices.
The new locations and their directors are the National Capital Region directed by Krista Michalis; California Central Coast at Monterrey with Christopher Manuel; California Inland Empire at Corona with Troy Clarke; Mid-Atlantic at Hampton Roads, Va., with Cmdr. Bobby Hanvey; Southern Maryland at Patuxent River, Md., with Rick Tarr; and Ventura, Calif., with Alan Jaeger.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition (RDA) James Geurts announced the creation of the first NavalX office in February 2019. NavalX aims to be an innovation cell that connects organizations to innovative ideas rather than generating ideas of its own (Defense Daily, Feb. 15).
Last September, the Navy announced the first five regional Tech Bridges that aim to further encourage collaboration and connections in Newport, R.I; Keyport, Wash.; San Diego; Orlando, Fla.; and Crane, Ind. (Defense Daily, Sept. 5, 2019).
Then, in November, the Navy announced the sixth Tech Bridge in Charleston, S.C., named Palmetto and operating under the coordination of the Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic (Defense Daily, Nov. 26, 2019).
The Tech Bridges operate like franchises, allowing each region to develop its own model to connect a local ecosystem for better connections of ideas. The Navy aims for them to partner with academics, start-ups, corporations, small businesses, non-profits and private capital.
The Navy said over the past several months NavalX members identified regions with the right ecosystem to support more resourcing via a Tech Bridge and partners both within the department and outside organizations.
The new tech bridge locations worked with local military command leadership “to build a team of experts that are ready to take on tasking to learn from and support the greater Tech Bridge effort,” the Navy said.
The Navy underscored NavalX supports each Tech Bridge with seed funding for its early efforts in the initial years so it can transition to stand on its own with funding and work with local partners.
“Current Tech Bridges are in the early stages of pilot project efforts designed to solve hard problems in technology areas identified by Fleet and the DON workforce,” the Navy said in a statement.
“I’m proud how much the Naval Agility office has accomplished in their first year in support of the Navy and Marine Corps team. They have accelerated the rapid adoption of proven agility-enhancing methods across the Department of Navy,” Geurts said Tuesday while speaking during the video announcement event from the NavalX office in Alexandria, Va.
Geurts underscored NavalX has been working collaboratively with the Navy’s research, development and acquisition teams as well as industry, and state and local governments.
“Today’s doubling of the tech bridge locations exponentially scales the Tech Bridge Network, enabling us to get new capabilities and solutions into the hands of our Sailors and Marines at network speed,” he added.
National Capital Region’s director Krista Michalis represents Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division and will be partnering with NSWC Dahlgren, NSWC Indian Head EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Technology Division, and the marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.
Michalis said her Tech Bridge’s first technical focus will be digital engineering.
“We are looking to leverage digital models and tools throughout the lifecycle of a naval platform and gain additional insights into performance. We’re interested in teaming with partners in all aspects of the digital thread continuum: digital design, digital manufacturing, application of digital twin concepts, big data analytics, machine learning, and high-performance computing to name a few,” she said.
Central Coast’s Manuel works at the Naval Post-Graduate School (NPS) in Monterey and said they plan to leverage four schools that oversee 77 masters and 16 doctoral programs and the Camp Roberts Field experimentation site.
“We have cleared airspace for autonomous vehicle testing there also. We also plan to partner with our non-traditional innovation partners throughout the region to deepen our cyber, space, and oceanographic capabilities. These connections will enhance our ability to develop and transfer technologies.”
Inland Empire’s Troy works at the NSWC Corona and said their vision is to “optimize decision- making for warfighting and fleet readiness.”
The Tech Bridge will focus on data analytics and data visualization, network data environments, and measurement technology.
Mid-Atlantic’s Hanvey works at 2nd Fleet and said his Tech Bridge will work with NSWC Dahlgren Division Dam Neck Activity, NSWC Carderock Division Norfolk Detachment and the Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic Hampton Roads Detachment.
Hanvey underscored his Tech Bridge is next to the largest naval base in the world and will tie the operational fleet and fleet commands to the larger national technical bridge network. He plans for them to work on technical areas like cyber, unmanned systems and robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced communications and control, and additive manufacturing.
South Maryland’s Tarr works at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) in Patuxent River and will work with NSWC Indian Head. The Tech Bridge will focus on unmanned aviation, autonomous systems, modeling and simulation, and live virtual constructive environments.
Jaeger’s Ventura Tech Bridge works at NSWC Port Heuneme Division and will work in partnership with an economic development collaborative at Matter Labs. Their center features 2,000 square feet of space, advanced prototyping equipment, additive manufacturing equipment, advanced systems development and will overall support “development and deployment of advanced in-service engineering capabilities for our fleet and warfighter.”
NavalX Tech Bridge Director Cmdr. Sam Gray said during the announcement that the “new Tech Bridge locations bring in a deeper connection to the Fleet, rapid prototyping mechanisms, and the access to talented naval students at NPS.”
Gray explained NavalX designated the new location by going out and “we looked how do you build a tech bridge and the key piece that we need is we need to build the teams centered around each of these locations.”
Then the leaders were “the people that fostered that. They went out into the local ecosystem and they found the teams that they wanted to connect with in academia, industry, as well as inside their own warfare centers as well.”