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Official Discusses Research, Engineering Endeavors

The Defense Department enjoys a technological advantage over potential adversaries, said Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, who spoke yesterday at a McAleese-sponsored event in Washington, D.C.

However, the wide variety of commercial product that could be used by China and other adversaries for military applications, combined with a lax sense of urgency in the U.S., could challenge DOD's supremacy in the future, she said.

Three Marines set up a satellite.
Valiant Shield
Marines set up satellite communication equipment during Valiant Shield in Palau, May 31, 2022. The exercise is designed to sustain joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land and in cyberspace.
Photo By: Marine Corps Cpl. Samuel Fletcher
VIRIN: 220531-M-LS844-1007M

R&E, working closely with the joint staff and services, looks at the most critical capabilities needed to fight in a high-end war, she said.

Also, R&E looks to industry to see if there are commercial applications that DOD can utilize, she said.

"We're focusing on things like resilience, communication, joint command and control," she said. Modeling and simulation inform these efforts and speeds things along.

A woman speaks and gestures with her hands.
Heidi Shyu
Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, speaks at a McAleese-sponsored event in Washington, D.C., March 15, 2023.
Photo By: David Vergun, DOD
VIRIN: 230315-D-UB488-015

Collaboration in this endeavor with allies and partners, as well as non-traditional companies is also important, she added.

"Literally, a big chunk of my time is focused on international engagement, what we can do to help each other … to co-develop capability or accelerate delivery of systems," she said.

The department is collaborating across innovation centers such as AFWERX, which is part of the Air Force Research Laboratory; NavalX, which delivers solutions to the Navy and Marine Corps; and SOFWERX, an innovation factory of U.S. Special Operations Command, along with others.

Rays shine over the shoulder of a Marine in a helmet checking data while standing next to target equipment.
Data Check
Marine Corps Maj. Jessica Lucia reviews target data during a tactical air control party at W-174 live fire range, Okinawa, Japan, Jan. 10, 2023. The training provided an opportunity to work in a dynamic tactical situation and refine target plotting skills.
Photo By: Marine Corps Sgt. Marcos Alvarado
VIRIN: 230110-M-CZ543-1793W

Regional laboratories, she said, are focused on such things as microelectronics, space-adaptive communications and laser communications.

Growing the science and technology workforce is another priority, she said. The department is funding science, technology, engineering and math scholarships from the four-year to PhD levels, with a stipulation to serve once the degree is bestowed.

Programs for high school STEM camps are also in place, she added, with tens of thousands of students enrolled.

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