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DIU and Naval Postgraduate School Partnership to Close Technology Talent Gap

DIU and Naval Postgraduate School Partnership to Close Technology Talent Gap


Both organisations hope to leverage advances in the commercial sector and academia to exchange ideas and deploy defence solutions.

A new partnership between the Defense Innovation Unit and the Naval Postgraduate School aims to accelerate the adoption of commercial technologies for defense applications and develop future leaders to manage these solutions.

The two parties signed the memorandum of understanding in April at the Sea-Air-Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. The agreement outlines a path for the Defense Department to adopt these solutions and foster mutually beneficial relationships between the Defense Department and technical talent in the private sector and academia.

Katie Penley, the school's first director of research and innovation, spoke with GovCIO Media & Research about the agreement and how both organizations are advancing the defense workforce on these priorities.

The Naval Postgraduate School and DIU already have a mutual exchange, so how will the new agreement enhance talent and technology leadership?

Penley: This MOU formalizes the long-standing relationship between NPS and DIU and will significantly enhance our future collaboration by structuring and streamlining the exchange of personnel, ideas and projects. This will foster a seamless integration of talent and technology, providing NPS faculty and students with hands-on experience with cutting-edge defense technologies at DIU and allowing DIU personnel to benefit from NPS's advanced research resources.

The MoU will also support joint efforts on projects that address current and future defense challenges, fostering a dynamic environment in which ideas can be rapidly prototyped, tested and implemented. Regular exchange of talent and ideas will enable best practices and lessons learned to be shared, accelerating the development of innovative solutions.

Ultimately, this MOU will strengthen the strategic partnership between NPS and DIU, enhance our ability to attract and develop talented personnel, and accelerate the adoption of innovative technologies in support of national defense objectives.

How do you think this framework will help the joint force achieve innovative solutions?

Penley: The school is 100% defense focused. The innovation here is to accelerate operational insights for mid-career military students. Leveraging academic and research infrastructure, DIU has access to a diverse pool of expertise and facilities. DIU's procurement efforts and dedicated mission to accelerate commercial technology adoption create synergy with academic rigor, leading to transformative efforts that address complex challenges facing the modern battlefield. This ultimately increases the effectiveness and lethality of our joint forces.

This new agreement provides DIU personnel with structured opportunities to participate in educational programs and receive advanced training. In return, students and faculty will gain exposure to DIU's innovative projects, enriching their academic experience and preparing them for defense innovation leadership.

The collaboration will leverage the School’s research capabilities and DIU’s agile development process to rapidly develop and test new and emerging technologies to ensure robust and effective solutions.

Collaboration with industry will facilitate the commercialization of technologies developed through this research. Industry partners will help bring and scale these technologies to market, ensuring innovation benefits both the defense sector and the broader commercial market. This capability is essential to transitioning prototypes into fully operational systems that can be deployed across the joint force.

For example, DIU-funded GreenSight weather drone fleets have been operational during the past four three-monthly Joint Interagency Field Experimentation (JIFX) programs that bring dozens of companies to Camp Roberts, a U.S. Army National Guard base in southern Monterey County, California, along with NPS students and faculty.

Such collaborations result in jointly developed technologies and solutions that combine expertise from academia, industry and defense.

Artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and cybersecurity are evolving rapidly. How does the DIU 3.0 model approach these?

Penley: DIU accelerates the adoption of cutting-edge technologies developed by private companies, including AI- and cybersecurity-enabled technologies, for areas of greatest need within the Department of Defense. Our process allows us to identify and select the best available technologies, rapidly prototype them in the military environments where they might be used, and then rapidly scale those successful technologies to our partners who need them.




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