On Wednesday, the Potomac Officers Club hosted its 8th Annual Defense R&D Summit which featured preeminent leaders across defense agencies and industry who gathered to discuss the top research and development initiatives shaping next-generation technology acquisition strategies, infrastructure modernization plans and innovation priorities within the Department of Defense and its commercial collaborators.
Recent 2022 Wash100 Award winner Heidi Shyu, under secretary of defense for research and engineering at the Department of Defense, delivered the event’s opening keynote address to provide a comprehensive “big picture” overview of the Pentagon’s current technology priority areas, primary activities and key investments as it works to ensure the technological superiority of U.S. warfighters and operators across all domains.
Following a brief introduction from moderator Randy Fields, vice president, chief technology officer and acting general manager for Cubic Digital Intelligence, Shyu began her keynote session by detailing the Defense Department’s current activities to ensure the health of the research and engineering office’s laboratory and test infrastructure.
Since her confirmation as undersecretary of defense in July 2021, Shyu has placed specific emphasis on improving communication with allies and leveraging larger innovation ecosystems to bridge the gap between the development of a capability and its inclusion in DOD programs.
During her keynote speech, Shyu said she has initiated quarterly meetings with leaders of federally funded research and development centers, university affiliated research centers, the top seven prime contractors, small businesses, commercial organizations and venture capital companies to foster robust communication of DOD needs and improve collaboration in the critical area of technology research and development.
She said these meetings with ally organizations help her to “start to tackle the impediments that they have identified” in working with the DOD and allow Shyu to influence the design process of high-priority technology development projects to allow for more seamless acquisitions.
In regards to new technology development, Shyu highlighted microelectronics, artificial intelligence, hypersonics, quantum, directed energy and biotechnology among the top technological priorities for defense research and development today.
“This is one of the key focus areas: I want companies to develop trusted AI and trusted autonomy that I can then leverage to manage unmanned systems – and not just one, but perhaps a whole wave,” Shyu explained.
Shyu also said she’s “thrilled” with the Army’s and the Navy’s progress in the area of laser systems to boost the nation’s defense capabilities and remain competitive on a global scale.
“We are finally at the cusp of developing laser technologies,” Shyu shared. “After 30 years, we’re getting to the point of fielding the prototype designs.”
To hear Heidi Shyu’s full keynote address, including an insightful look into where the country stands on hypersonic technology development and testing in comparison to other global powers, visit PotomacOfficersClub.com, where you can view the full Defense R&D Summit on-demand now.
On Jan. 25, the Potomac Officers Club will host its final Data-Driven 2021 Series event, Fostering Resilient, All-of-Nation Pandemic Response, which will bring together leading voices across public and private health sector organizations to discuss the current state of the country’s pandemic response, the burgeoning challenges posed by the Omicron variant and the top strategies for reaching the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rear Admiral Bruce Gillingham, surgeon general of the U.S. Navy, is slated to deliver a keynote address focused on how military service branches are contributing to pandemic resilience efforts as new public health concerns emerge and evolve.
Visit PotomacOfficersClub.com to register for the Fostering Resilient, All-of-Nation Pandemic Response event on Jan. 25 and to learn more about the platform’s upcoming virtual events.