ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 21, 2006 – It would have been understandable for a speaker to appear rattled addressing hundreds of world-renowned scientists gathered in Atlanta recently for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s Joint Program Review.
Dan Marren, director of the Arnold Engineering Development Center’s White Oak, Md. facility, after all, had only 45 minutes to prepare a 30-minute speech shortly after he received word his boss could not make it.
At the review, Marren expected to be in the audience. Instead, he spoke to scientists brought together by Air Force Office of Scientific Research program managers to review five major Air Force basic research portfolios.
Speaking to experts who spent the week discussing such topics as physical mathematics and plasma aerodynamics could affect anyone’s composure – anyone except Marren.
His presentation focused on three topics which, he said, are of critical importance to the scientific community – basic research, collaboration and relationships, and use of imagination to achieve great possibilities. The thread that weaves these concepts together is vision.
“At Arnold Engineering Development Center,” Marren said, “we have 58 unique test cells to examine topics such as propulsion, aerodynamics, and space.”
The problem, he explained, is that “it can take nine to 15 years to conceptualize, build, develop, calibrate, and put in place a test facility capable of doing the sort of testing that is desired.
“With that in mind,” Marren noted, “it is critical we reach back to the basic research community with a number of goals.
One goal is to look closely at the concepts you’re working on, the physics you’re trying to understand, and the types of developments and breakthroughs you’re making.
This work enables the systems of tomorrow. If we look at those systems, we can get a feel for what kinds of tests and evaluations we’re going to have to do to make those systems a reality.”