SEP 21, 2022

Inaugural AIRC Incubator Research Offers Fresh Take on Innovative Defense Acquisition

Decision making, enabling effective test and evaluation, rapid workforce training and organizational knowledge sharing are some emerging and enduring challenges facing the Department of Defense (DoD). Researchers working with the Acquisition Innovation Research Center (AIRC), a multi-university collaborative network within the DoD’s Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC), are conducting applied and experimental research to have an impact on these issues.

In April 2021, AIRC issued an open call for academic proposals outlining research efforts with significant potential to improve the practice of DoD acquisition. Digital Transformation and Acquisition was identified as the theme within which to postulate new approaches and prototypes.

Over 60 proposals from 30 universities were received in May 2021, demonstrating strong interest from academia in addressing enduring DoD challenges by applying innovative concepts and approaches from the disciplines of business, management, public affairs, public policy, engineering, intelligent systems, operations research, data science, statistics, computer science, and information science.

The 14 AIRC Innovation Panel members, all thought leaders, from academia, industry, and former DoD and congressional stakeholders, brainstormed over 30 novel application concepts within the theme. These concepts relate to three perspectives of the acquisition system: 1. Leader and Decision-Maker perspective; 2. Data and Infrastructure, Tools, and Techniques perspective; and 3. Workforce and Incentives perspective.

The inaugural set of 8 incubator proposals were selected by AIRC advisors from the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Military Services and included more than 30 faculty and fellows at 10 universities to work alongside DoD leaders and incubator champions to develop novel solutions that will accelerate and improve acquisition functions. Early results offer significant potential for improved decision making, modernizing acquisition processes, and workforce development.

Read Incentives for Motivating Workforce Agility and Innovation by PI, Dr. Amanda Girth, The Ohio State University.

Upcoming Incubator Reports:

Management and Business Knowledge Representation for Decision Making: Applying Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Science, and Advanced Quantitative Decision Analytics for Making Better-Informed Decisions – PI, Dr. Johnathan Mun, Naval Postgraduate School

Calculating Return on Investment in a Department of Defense Context – PI, Dr. Eric W. Burger, Georgetown University

An Innovative Probabilistic Approach to Risk-Based Validation – PI, Dr. Azad M. Madni, University of Southern California

Digital Engineering Enhanced T&E of Learning-Based Systems – PI, Dr. Peter Beling, Virginia Tech

Holistic Assurance Framework: Fast Time Emergent Scenario Simulation (FTESS) – PI, Dr. Lance Sherry, George Mason University

Cognitive Training Assistant for Cost Estimators – PI, Dr. Daniel Selva, Texas A&M University