By: Dr. Benjamin Migliori
In just a week, San Diego will be the home to the first ever athenaTHINK: A design thinking workshop in partnership with SPAWAR SSC PAC’s Grassroots S&T.
Last year, we hosted warfighters from the USS Benfold at SSC PAC to foster better innovation, more inspired projects, and a better interface between Sailors and Scientists. Next week, we’ll be doing that again. Our purpose is to give warfighters and technologists a chance to work together in a Design Thinking framework, and to open up the possibility of meaningful collaboration.
We’ll be giving Sailors an opportunity to see some of the bleeding edge work that we do here at SSCPAC, and giving the scientists a chance to hear real concerns from actual warfighters, rather than simply reading about them in briefs and training manuals. We’ll be introducing the ideas of Design Thinking for military applications, and showing that the civilian entrepreneurs don’t get to have all the fun. We’ll be competing for a best project award – which could turn into much more and be the seed for a new initiative.
Further, many of these ideas could be prime candidates to pitch at a Waterfront Athena event! And, with the next event coming to us in late February, this workshop is a great opportunity to hammer through some big ideas.
Why should we do this? Why does this matter?
Vannevar Bush, Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II, seemed to think that neither technologists nor warfighters possessed the complete understanding necessary for effective R&D.
“…no scientist could hope to grasp fully the military phases of the problem. This can be attained only as a result of a life spent in close association with the sea, with naval tradition, and with the responsibility of command. Yet it is equally true that no naval officer can be expected to grasp fully the implications and trends of modern science and its applications. This requires, equally forcefully, a lifetime spent in science, and in the personal utilization of the scientific method.”
If his premise is true, and we tend to think it has some merit, then one effective way to work around our weaknesses is to work together. Dr. James Colvard wrote about how the genesis of the Navy Labs was this idea of scientists working alongside warfighters.
“With the Manhattan Project as a model, which had General Groves in charge but working in a complementary relationship with Dr. Oppenheimer, they saw the need for a technical institution that would bring together both naval officers and scientists. Such an institution would combine, in a daily working relationship, the knowledge of the weapons needs of the Navy and the potential of science and technology to meet those needs.”
These aren’t simply words – last year’s learn warfighter needs workshop provided the spark that resulted in new avenues of research, and influenced our new virtual reality lab here at SSC PAC. We’ll show you the pitch that led to that facility, let you see the results of the work, and then provide the creative space for you to put forth your own game-changing ideas.
By collaborating with The Athena Project, we combine our collective technical expertise and our understanding of the Navy. Let’s work together to generate ideas that take advantage of our unique interactions. We’ll provide the framework and the space – all you have to do is bring an open mind and an eye for strengthening the Navy.
So, if you’ve got an itch to make the Navy even better while strengthening the bond between Sailors and Scientists, sign up for the full-day Design Thinking workshop on January 28th here!
See you there!
Ben Migliori is a Ph.D. in Physics/Biophysics who used to shoot lasers at leeches (for science!) at the University of California, San Diego. He is now a Navy researcher at SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific, where he studies data science, biologically-inspired systems, and the interface between technology and the warfighter. His goal is to use adjacent innovation to enable the Navy with game-changing technologies based on solutions found in nature.
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