Congressional Briefing Focuses on Strengthening the Defense Industrial Base


Feb. 9, 2018


Retired Major General Nick Justice (foreground), executive director of PowerAmerica Manufacturing USA, was the moderator for the Congressional Briefing, which featured presentations from (at table, left to right) Dr. Robert Ghrist of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Tony Rivera of the University of Maryland, Dr. Andrew Ellington of the University of Teas at Austin, and Dr. Neil Gershenfeld, director of the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT.

ASME recently joined the Coalition for National Security Research (CNSR) in hosting a Congressional Briefing on the important role of defense science and technology (S&T) funding in ensuring a strong defense industrial base.

Poster presentations showcasing DOD-funded research at CNSR-member universities framed the room for guests to view as they found their seats at the briefing, which took place Jan. 30 at the Capitol Visitor Center. U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) and U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) met with researchers from universities in their own congressional districts to learn more about the scientific advances being made through DOD-funded research. Retired Major General Nick Justice, executive director of PowerAmerica Manufacturing USA, moderated the event and introduced Dale Ormond, principle director for the Research Directorate at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, who delivered opening remarks before four DOD-funded researchers presented their cutting-edge research to the audience of more than 80.


Dale Ormond (far right), principle director for the Research Directorate at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, provided opening remarks at the briefing, which highlighted the research of (at table, left to right) Dr. Robert Ghrist, Dr. Tony Rivera, Dr. Andrew Ellington, and Dr. Neil Gershenfeld.

Dr. Neil Gershenfeld, director of the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT, exhibited his work on creating new mechanical processes based on biology that allow manufacturers to digitize the actual material components. Dr. Andrew Ellington of the University of Texas at Austin shared that impactful research often starts under DOD and that the future capabilities of the U.S. depend on the basic research conducted today. Dr. Tony Rivera of the University of Maryland highlighted the value of diversity in STEM, and Dr. Robert Ghrist of the University of Pennsylvania spoke to the importance of interactive learning in STEM fields to increase comprehension of complex subjects and problem solving abilities.

Following the presentations, special guest retired Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder commented on the government’s vital role in the innovation ecosystem, as federal funding catalyzes additional investments elsewhere, multiplying its impact. Former Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics John J. Young, Jr., offered closing remarks, attesting to the importance of a robust S&T program in ensuring a strong defense industrial base. He encouraged the audience to invest in research even when it has no obvious application, as those experiments often lead to world-changing discoveries.

-Samantha Fijacko, ASME Government Relations