Transcript

DOD Research & Engineering Leaders Brief Reporters on the University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics

Oct. 26, 2020
Dr. Mark Lewis, Director Of Defense Research And Engineering For Modernization; Dr. Gillian Bussey, Director, Joint Hypersonics Transition Office

Cmdr. Frey: All right. Okay. So we will close the roll call for now. And if we have enough time at the end, I'll come back to anybody who I didn't call. And we'll get started here in just a few minutes with an opening statement from Dr. Lewis.

For those of you who haven't -- who I haven't talked to yet, my name is Commander Josh Frey, I’m with OSC Public Affairs. I'll be facilitating this call this afternoon. And thank you for joining us.

This afternoon, Dr. Mark Lewis, the Acting Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, will provide a brief opening statement on the Department of Defense hypersonics program and the establishment of the University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics.

He will then be joined by Dr. Gillian Bussey, the Director of the Joint Hypersonics Transition Office, for an overview of the consortium. And then we will go into a brief question and answer session.

We'll have about 30 minutes for this event today. And this is on the record and for attribution. If you have any follow-on questions or I don't get to you by the end of the questions, then follow up with me and we can try to have your question answered at a later time.

And with that, Dr. Lewis will now provide an opening statement.

DR. MARK LEWIS: Great, well, hey, let me start off by thanking everyone for joining us. Really appreciate your time this afternoon. We called you all together to make an announcement of a program that we're really quite excited about. I hope -- I hope you will be as well. So -- if I -- if I can provide the context, I've heard a lot of familiar names on the line so I know many of you have reported on our work in the past on -- on high-speed flight, but to kind of set where we are, I think all -- all of you know that one of our very top modern day priorities at the Department of Defense is hypersonics. And our goals are pretty straight forward. We want to deliver high-speed weapons at scale, and by at scale we mean large numbers, into the hands of our warfighters, and we also, by the way, want to develop defenses against weapons that some of our peer competitors are in the process of developing or deploying as well. So it's both offense and defense. And to this, we've significantly accelerated research and testings. We have a number of prototype efforts underway in the Department. And all these have the goal of rapidly transition to programs of record, again, to get high-speed weapons in the hands of our warfighters. So as part of doing this, we developed a detailed road map. And that road map was -- was developed in concert with the services and the various agencies, including DARPA, Missile Defense Agency, Space Development Agency, but we've taken a truly whole Department approach. And this approach isn't just focused on research and development, but also on such issues as supply chain and workforce and including education as you're going to hear today. So an important element of this has been pushed for the creation of what we call the Joint Hypersonics Transition Office, the JHTO, and that's within the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. As -- was mentioned, I'm currently the Acting Deputy Undersecretary in that office. We've done that with tremendous support from friends in Congress, those who recognize the importance of investments in this area. So today, it's my pleasure to help announce an important milestone coming out of the JHTO, the Joint Hypersonics Transition Office. That is the formal kickoff of the University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics. It's going to be led by Texas A&M under the guidance of Dr. Rodney Bowersox in the College of Engineering. And – and Dr. Bowersox and his colleagues have assembled a multi-university team that will truly be our partners in exploring hypersonics.

So -- without further adieu, I want to introduce the head of our Joint Hypersonics Transition Office, Dr. Gillian Bussey. She's been the person who led the effort to create, to define, and will ultimately be the person to help guide and partner with this team of universities under the consortium.

So, Gillian, turning it over to you.

DIRECTOR GILLIAN BUSSEY: All right. Thank you, Dr. Lewis. It's been a pleasure working with you and the R&E Hypersonics Team getting this consortium off the ground.

So establishing the University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics has been my top priority since being appointed director of the JHTO in April. When Congress provided funding and direction to establish this consortium, they highlighted the important role that our country's academic institutions play in national security-related technology development. While we've always turned to our colleges and universities to advance important technologies, this consortium is unique in its diversity and scope. So hypersonics in particular requires integrating advanced technologies from across a wide variety of disciplines. So this consortium will bring together under one umbrella universities from across the country. I think we've -- we've heard from almost every state as a part of this initiative expressing an interest in joining. So we'll bring in universities from across the country and researchers with expertise, ranging from aerospace, chemistry, thermodynamics, materials, artificial intelligence, possibly quantum, and more. So our job is really to leverage this broadly scoped consortium to break down the functional stovepipes and good ideas from research to operationally useful capabilities and then perhaps most importantly, develop the hypersonics workforce we need. You'll note that this is a consortium for applied hypersonics. The Department is funding a good amount of basic research in hypersonics, but we're finding that that's leading to some of the more applied areas are not quite as healthy and not bringing fresh blood into our workforce, into our industry. So this consortium is going to -- is really based on something kind of new. We're focusing on budget areas 6-2, 6-3, so more applied areas, and having universities work on more sensitive technologies. That could include ITAR, classified, things that are a little bit more closely connected to our programs, to really help transition that workforce and to get students and professors kind of working in more applied areas, working more multidisciplinary and really treating them as a member of our team. So this effort is consistent with the JHTO's larger purpose, which is to synchronize and align the wide variety of cross-disciplinary research, technology, transition development, and test efforts needed to successfully produce hypersonic systems. We need to coordinate and align to meet the warfighters' needs, to avoid redundancy, to focus our resources on the most important and most promising technology development areas. We work closely with Mike White, the Principal Director for Hypersonics, on our activities, particularly our hypersonics S&T roadmap, and the consortium activities that derive from it, along with the larger view of the hypersonic vision. While I've largely been speaking to technology development, an equally important purpose of my office and the university consortium is to better development the workforce. The symmetry of purpose between the JHTO and the consortium in research and workforce development will carry us far, and we couldn't have a better partner in this effort than the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station. When we solicited whitepapers from universities, non-profits, and small businesses to establish and oversee this consortium, we received many high-quality responses. Two stood out in particular with their expertise in running consortiums, they're broadly inclusive in cross-cutting government structures (inaudible), and a wide range of supports that they will provide to the consortium and its members, is really quite amazing. They also presented a plan to maximize opportunities for effective engagement between a government and academic community beyond research projects. I will say by choosing Texas A&M, I didn't -- I felt like we weren't choosing just -- we weren't choosing a contractor. We ended up getting a partner and a valuable member of our team. They really presented a great proposal that shows that they really understand what the hypersonic community needs and how the university systems can, you know, affect that. The governance board that they empaneled includes many of the top minds in hypersonic related research from across multiple universities. Their plan includes integration of industry in an advisory capacity, which is essential to ensuring how we can best transition technologies to operational capabilities, and develop our workforce; tease outreach efforts, which have garnered in over 500 faculty members from, I think the number's up to 45 now, different universities so far, ensuring that we have not only the diversity we need, but that we will hit the ground running. Our intent is to release an initial tranche of 26 project solicitations through the consortium to its members next month, and we expect to award 20 million in funding to those proposals that best meet our needs and will connect an initial virtual industry day associated with that call. To wrap up, today is an exciting day for the hypersonic enterprise and our partnership with Texas A&M will be of great benefit to the nation. At this time, I'd be happy to take any questions you might have.

DR. LEWIS: Thanks a lot, Gillian.

Cmdr. Frey: Okay. Now we'll go over to Steve Tremble from Aviation Week.

DR. LEWIS: Hey, Steve, how you doing?

Q: Great. Great, great to hear from you again. So I know it's difficult to elaborate in this subject area, but can -- can you go into any depth on an example or two of a -- of a problem that you think you can solve or -- or at least address by going through this structure of a consortium versus the other way DOD would handle basic research with the universities?

DR. LEWIS: Well, actually, Steve, if I can jump in-- so, you know--there's no -- when you say other way, I mean, we have many, many different paths to work with the universities, everything from the single investigated grants to the MURIs -- What are you looking to contrast against?

Q: I mean, this consortium approach with sort of a central manager at Texas A&M with the JHTO. That sort of coordinated process and -- and given things like aerothermal chemistry and all these other very complex, interactive issues with hypersonics.

DR. LEWIS: So -- Gillian, let me take -- if it's okay, let me try to jump in on that one and then feel free to chime in as well. So, let me -- start by saying, look, Steve, I spent most of my own career as a faculty member doing research in hypersonics. And the one thing I can tell you is hypersonics is perhaps the most interdisciplinary subfield that I know in aerospace engineering. A good hypersonic vehicle is a fully integrated system. The engines and the airframes are more closely coupled, more closely integrated than almost any other aerospace system that I can think of. And so this is a -- this is an area that just is crying out for multidisciplinary investigations. And that's what a consortium like this allows us to do, all right? Instead of funding a fluid dynamicist who's been working boundary layer transitions, and a material scientist who's done work on (inaudible) materials, this consortium allows us to get teams of faculty members together, in some cases large teams, tackling these really complex, major problems. And that's the beauty of this. Gillian, do you want to -- do you want to fill in? You want to elaborate?

DR. BUSSEY: Yeah, so -- I think one thing I've noticed overseas, in China, I've seen some of the research papers and they -- you look at kind of the research papers coming out of some of these schools and it's like you -- as a student, you could be exposed to every aspect of a hypersonic vehicle design and we've seen from some of the press reporting that some of these universities are actually designing and flying vehicles. And so I -- have to think that that's done amazing things to their workforce and might be part of the reason why that they've had a lot of success with their programs and we're hearing about it in the press. So I think, like, for example, one paper I saw, they had a university team was designing a vehicle and they were taking into consideration rate of cross-section and survivability, as well as aerothermal dynamics. They would then take that vehicle into the wind tunnel and verify the performance. I could imagine a project like that. You might also have another university working on the sensors that go -- new types of sensors that go into the wind tunnel to help characterize the important elements of the flow that you need to know about. One thing that we're doing with our consortium is we're trying to replicate projects, multidisciplinary projects like that and -- that are more applied. Ultimately, the gold standard would be to have this team develop a vehicle and fly it. That really depends on our -- our budget and kind of how things go, but for at least in your term, we plan on having these things we call challenge projects. There'll be a couple of them. They're multidisciplinary. They require teaming across universities. They're similar to the MURIs that are in the 6-1 world that -- folks like ONR and NASA and (inaudible) funds. I guess kind of one idea might be, like, let's say you have a scram-jet engine and you are trying to figure out how to provide better active engine control. And so there's things going on with the inlet that affect that, there's algorithms that need to be developed, there's sensors that need to be developed, you've put in the wind tunnels to understand what's going on. You're bringing in people who -- engine experts, you're bringing in aerodynamics people, you're bringing in someone to develop algorithms, you're bringing in G&C folks, you're bringing in the (inaudible). It's a big team of people all working together and then students, when they're part of these projects, when they graduate, they've had experience beyond just their small -- beyond just their discipline, they've actually had to do systems engineering and think about problems within their area.

DR. LEWIS: Yeah. And Steve, I guess I -- let me emphasize to your point that Gillian already made, but to really emphasize this, that as part of this consortium, the university's going to be directly partnered with us. They're going to be working on our actual real-world problems. So they're going to be fully integrated in some of the things that we do in this department. That's really kind of exciting. We already had some universities that are kind of on our critical path, but this will expand that relationship.

Q: That's great. Thank you.

Cmdr. Frey: Okay. And now we'll go to Kara Carlson with the Austin American-Statesman.

Q: Hi. So Texas as a whole, including Austin, has become kind of a hub for both public and private defense tech research. And I was just hoping to get some more information on how Texas A&M and just the state university system as a whole might fit into the DOD's future priorities and a road map as far as their own development of defense technology.

DR. LEWIS: Oh, I love that question, because our universities across the country are integral to the things that we're doing in modernization priorities. So if I can step back, we've got a portfolio of technology priority areas, including hypersonics, but also including such things as artificial intelligence and microelectronics and directed energy. And we're investing heavily across the department, but a large part of that is the investment that -- and starting at the university level. And when we looked to states such as Texas, we see incredible support. They understand the importance of these technology areas for our warfighters, for the Department, -- and frankly, they've risen to the challenge. In Texas, University of Texas Austin, I look at their engineering program and they've done some -- they've grown tremendously. They've built some incredible capabilities that touch directly on our modernization priorities, especially artificial intelligence and autonomy. Texas A&M is also doing some really, really incredibly impressive research across our list of priorities, not just in hypersonics. My close friend and colleague, Dr. James Hubbard, is a faculty member at Texas A&M. He has been doing some incredible work on autonomy, looking at the future of unmanned aerial systems, is just one example. Other investments being made across the board, again, addressing our priorities. So I will tell you that we also -- when we looked at Texas, we see -- I think a special appreciation for the importance of research that is dedicated to the defense of our nation. And we in the Department truly appreciate that.

Q: Okay, thank you.

Cmdr. Frey: Okay, Brittany Britto with Houston Chronicle.

Q: Thanks so much. I think my question kind of piggybacks on the first question asked. When you're talking about developing weapons and vehicles and doing real-world research, for our readers who might not know much about hypersonic technology, are there any other kind of relatable, I guess technology or inventions or projects that you're looking to focus on within the next five years?

DR. LEWIS: So, you mean within -- you mean out beyond hypersonics or within hypersonics? Can you -- I want to make sure I understand the question.

Q: Yeah, within hypersonics, but if there's -- you mentioned it's, like, multidisciplined. 

DR. LEWIS: Of course.

Q: I guess it doesn't relate to hypersonics, then just anything that you're focusing on and the initiatives.

DR. LEWIS: Sure. So -- let me -- I guess, let me take a step back. So, as you probably know, hypersonic flight refers to flight in excess of about five times the speed of sound. And there's a set of special challenges in designing a vehicle that can travel at those speeds. We look at hypersonics as being an enabling ability. It's not just one thing. It's a range of systems. It's everything from cruise missiles to longer range weapons, to basically high-speed airplanes, and maybe even high-speed spacecraft, all right? The special challenges have to do with when you're traveling at those sorts of speeds, it's difficult to propel the craft through the atmosphere. But then you also have to deal with the intense environment and incredible speed that is generated in association with flight at those speeds. So, we've got a -- we've got a whole range of subcategories and Dr. Bussey can go into more detail, but everything from propulsion systems, what are the engines that we use, to the high temperature materials that can handle the incredible heat loads that you experience from traveling at those speeds. Also, the special aerodynamics. So how do -- how do you shape a vehicle that operates most efficiently at those sorts of speeds? So all those kind of come together, and then the ability to control the vehicle. How do you make sure it points in the direction you want it to point in? How do you maneuver? How do you pitch? How do you yaw? How do you control it? How do you build sensors that can operate in those sorts of environments? But a long list of challenges that we've identified that this consortium will be able to participate in. So, Gillian, did I miss anything on that list?

DR. BUSSEY: No, but we do have a formal list that we've prioritized. So we have six overarching technology areas that are priority. Materials and manufacturing; guidance, navigation, and control; propulsion, primarily air breathing propulsion; environments; phenomenologies, which kind of refers to what is the vehicle experiencing, the high-temperature gas dynamic around the vehicle, and the vehicle in the atmosphere, your weather effects; applied aerodynamics and system engineering, and then the sixth area is lethality and energetics. So I don't believe you mentioned warheads. So that's -- we're looking at issues related to warheads, blast effects, in that sixth area. But pretty much every aspect of the hypersonic vehicle, we're going to be looking at it, but from a more applied nature.

Q: Thank you.

Cmdr. Frey: Great. Thank you. Patrick Tucker with Defense One.

Q: Sorry, can you hear me?

Cmdr. Frey: Yeah, we can hear you.

Q: Okay, thanks. So it might be a little bit redundant, but if not, (inaudible). The 26 project solicitations, can you tell us some of the first ones or some of the biggest ones that are coming up next month? Some more about them?

DR. BUSSEY: So we're still formulating them. And we're actually trying to keep them a little bit close hold because this is going to be a competitive solicitation, so we don't want to give anyone an unfair head start. But they're focused in the six areas and they're generally going to be -- we generally hope to have more projects in the first three areas I mentioned as opposed to the last three because they are prioritized. But you'll see a healthy spread across the different disciplines.

Q: Okay. And earlier you mentioned that there are schools in China where you have these multidisciplinary teams that are actually beginning to, like, build aircraft. I mean, the Defense Department already has formal hypersonics programs to build platforms. Is a (inaudible) fielded craft. Is that an objective or will you be (inaudible) by way of testing the hypersonics research environment that exists in China versus the United States?

DR. BUSSEY: So it was brought up as an example, kind of the environment they have. I think it would be our goal. Again, this is funding dependent and depending on how things are going with the consortium to have a flight test vehicle. I think some of you might be familiar with the AFOSR-led BOLT program, which essentially is -- was ATL and it's led actually by Texas A&M. And it's brought together several in the hypersonics community working on a particular problem. And they're flight testing a vehicle and they're going to get the results and they're going to compare against their data. That's done wonders for invigorating the workforce and it seems excited. They're giving people relevant experience when they're in college beyond just the lab and their classes. So it is my hope that we can replicate something like that, but have it be more multi-disciplinary and a more applied area, but we're just not there yet.

DR. LEWIS: If I can jump in, I do want to tell you, I'm often asked, -- it's the story has been well-told about how much the Chinese have imitated us, how they've duplicated some of our work, they've read all of our papers, they've followed all of our research, in some cases they've just stolen things hook, line, and sinker. And I'm often asked, well, gee, should we be learning lessons from the Chinese? Yeah, we can take the best of their ideas as well, and so I'm kind of -- I'm pleased in this case that we've looked -- in this case, it's something that they've done, and we said, yeah, we can do that, and in fact, we can do it better.

Q: Thanks.

Cmdr. Frey: All right. Jason Sherman with Inside Defense.

Q: Great, thanks. I just want to follow up on the point you made, Dr. Lewis, there. So you're talking about with the -- with this university consortium, that's the idea that you're taking and doing better here?

DR. LEWIS: Well, yeah. Okay, so, we've worked with universities. Obviously, we've worked with universities for decades and decades. So, but, we looked at, in particular, hypersonics, the degree to which China will integrate their students working on their various projects. We thought, huh, that's a pretty good idea. So, yeah.

Q: Great. Thanks. So, Gillian, I wanted to ask if you could just sort of give us an update, this announcement in the context of other things your office has done since it was set up in April and in general terms, sort of explain how Congress gave you $100 million for fiscal year '20, and it looks like this contract, this 20-year contract, is over five years, so that's -- that accounts for a small portion of that. So if you could sort of just walk us through what your main lines of efforts are in executing those funds that Congress appropriated for fiscal year '20, and then after that, a question about getting these graduate students and professors involved in, and integrating them in with these programs that are classified, what are the implications for foreign students who might be interested and even involved in some of the disciplines at these universities? Thanks.

DR. BUSSEY: All right, so I'll address your second question first.

Q: Okay.

DR. BUSSEY: So part of this effort is to train the workforce that would go into our industrial base, that would work on our programs. So we are limiting our projects to U.S. citizens and those from -- citizens of -- and universities from Australia, Great Britain, Canada. We actually -- I think we have three international universities that we're bringing into the effort. That's a little challenging how we do that, but Texas A&M has experience doing that. We also -- part of the reason why we chose Texas A&M is because they really understood the security aspect and are actually really proactive in making sure that those who shouldn't have access to defense university work don't get that access. They are proactive in looking for counterintelligence threats, to essentially make sure that we're not training Chinese scientists who are going to go help their programs, for example. So that's very much on the top of our minds and we're certainly looking for ways to ensure that these efforts stay out of the hands of folks who are going to use it against us in a future conflict. Let's see, remind me of your first question.

Q: It had to do with $100 million and you guys have been six months -- you've had six months to spend it and what are the other efforts that are accounting for those resources?

DR. BUSSEY: Yeah, sure. So our primary lines of effort, the first is advanced concept development. So we have a contract with Boeing to mature a dual nose scramjet design. They're working with Air Jet. Air (inaudible) is our program manager on this effort, and we're doing this so that we can have a option for the Navy that is compatible with their F-18 based on -- that are based off of a carrier. We hope to have that testing wrapped up in time to support any decisions that either the Air Force or the Navy will end up making in terms of future hypersonic cruise missile capabilities. Our second effort, what we're talking about today, the university consortium. Right before -- about two months ago, we announced eight grants that we handed out to eight different universities. Those were in the technology areas that I mentioned, as well as a workforce development grant to look at developing curriculum for folks in the workforce so that they can get smarter in hypersonics. So we had a press release about that Monday after September 11th. And that was just to kind of show that we're still committed to this effort. But as many people know, we have contracting. Takes a long time. So we wanted to get something out the door quickly. The third major effort is our S&T roadmap and strategy. So we have a roadmap that connects technology need to products, to capabilities, to timelines on when we need to have those products available to go into programs. And then also, we appreciate that Congress recognized that it doesn't do much good to determine what your gaps and your needs are and come up with a roadmap and then not actually be able to do anything about those gaps and needs because you don't have funding. So about half of our budget is going towards 27 S&T acceleration projects. Those are one or perhaps up to three-year projects that are going to accelerate some our biggest S&T needs. And so they're spread kind of across the disciplines. That money's going pretty evenly to the Air Force, DARPA, Army, Navy, and there's some going to NASA. There's money going to FFRDC. There's money going to ATL. It's spread pretty -- money going to (inaudible). It's spread pretty easily across the community. And then our -- our fourth major line of effort is the system engineering field activities at NSWC Crane. That was announced last week. And that is about ensuring that what we're doing has systems engineering rigor behind it and that the projects for funding, including with the consortium, they have a pathway and a plan to transition, and a schedule to transition into block upgrades, to get on flight tests so that can get matured, and then be in those block upgrades. And then also, we're responsible for allied engagement in hypersonics. So we have a number of efforts there with other countries.

Q: And those 27 acceleration projects are separate from the more than 2,000 contracts you plan to award to -- okay, great. All right.

DR. BUSSEY: Yep.

Q: All right. Fantastic. Thank you.

DR. LEWIS: As you can tell, it has been a very, very busy six months for the JHTO. And shout out to our colleagues in session in the services and Navy and NSWC Crane, as Gillian mentioned, has just done a wonderful job with stepping up and working with us as we develop this portfolio. So we're really proud of the work at JHTO. They've done a phenomenal job in a very short period of time.

Cmdr. Frey: All right. And then going back to Vago Muradian, did you have a question?

Q: Yes, I -- I did. Thanks very much. So just two -- two questions really. The -- the first is what's the quantifiable acceleration by doing this? And if you look at it, while hypersonics may be somewhat more interdisciplinary than other fields, there are a lot of other fields that you could apply such an interdisciplinary approach to, right? So does this make you 50 percent faster? Does this allow you to have those hypersonics at scale and mass that you're looking for in two years instead of 12 or one year instead of three? Like, what -- how -- how do we need to think about this in terms of its accelerated capacities?

DR. LEWIS: So Vago, I got to be honest, I don't know how to quantify -- I don't know how to give you a quantifiable measure for the question you're asking. What I can tell you is we want to go as quickly as we possibly can. So in all of our modernization priorities, we have as a target date, we kind of think in terms of 2028, the delivery of new capabilities. Well, why 2028? Because it's ten years after the release of the National Defense Strategy. It's a line in the sand, if you will. So across the hypersonics portfolio, we're looking to deliver real capabilities in just a handful of years. We don't say exactly when because we've got peer competitors who are carefully monitoring what we're doing. We do believe that we are in a bit of a race right now. But -- so the best I can tell you is I -- this is an important part of the -- when we say acceleration, we mean, basically, every -- we had previously a number of prototype efforts. Now we're looking to those prototypes efforts, especially the ones that are most successful, going -- transitioning directly to programs of record. And so, accelerating the acquisition process to get us out of the lab and literally in the hands of the warfighter as quickly as possible. You know, it's just one example. I'll point to the program in the U.S. Army under -- under Lieutenant General Neil Thurgood. They are moving at a very, very aggressive pace to develop the Army component to our hypersonic portfolio. But, yeah, it's hard to -- I can't tell you that we're actually 43 percent faster than we were. I don't know how to do that metric. I can tell you, though, that the whole theme of this is moving as quickly as we possibly can.

Q: Let me -- let me ask one other follow-up question, if I may. Do you guys have to do anything differently in terms of security, right? You were looking for a distributed approach to something that's very highly classified. Obviously, we do that in a lot of other ways. But is there anything special that you're doing to maintain security, given the distributed nature of what you're doing?

DR. LEWIS: I think you mean specifically for the university consortium. So, Gillian, do you want to talk a little bit about the security issues? You mentioned them briefly, but --

DR. BUSSEY: So, we literally signed the contract today. So we don't have the security mechanism set in place. But of the teams we looked at, this was one of the best and arguably the best in terms of security. So I can't really say right now if we're doing anything different because we haven't started doing it yet.

DR. LEWIS: Vago, let me point out, you know, the first step in security is acknowledging a problem and being sensitive to it. And we were essentially impressed by the Texas A&M team, that they're -- it kind of gets back to a question that I was asked earlier. There are other universities, obviously, that do work in national and international security. Other universities, other teams at universities that will do ITAR, will do some levels of classifications. But I think it was the recognition of the importance in this area, the -- frankly, the seriousness of the -- of the competition that we face, that we recognized in this team that -- that was particularly noteworthy. Again, we had other proposals from other groups that also, and I'm not taking away from any -- any other proposers. But certainly one -- one of the winning attributes was starting with the recognition that maybe there's some special considerations in this case.

Q: Great. Thanks very much, guys. Really appreciate it and congratulations on the agreement.

DR. LEWIS: Thank you.

Cmdr. Frey: All right. With that, we have time for one more question from someone I didn't call on. And if not, we'll go into closing statements.

Q: May I ask a very, very quick question.

Cmdr. Frey: Sure. Can you please identify yourself?

Q: Yes, Peter Loewi with the Asahi Shimbun.

Cmdr. Frey: Okay, go ahead, Peter.

Q: Dr. Bussey, you mentioned a sixth -- a formal list of priorities, but you rambled them off too quickly for me to get them all down. Can you repeat those six in order please?

DR. BUSSEY: Sure. Materials and manufacturing.

Q: Yep.

DR. BUSSEY: Guidance, navigation, and control; propulsion with an emphasis on air-breathing propulsion; environments and phenomenologies; applied aerodynamics and systems engineering; and lethality and energetics.

Q: Wonderful. Got those. Thanks so much.

DR. BUSSEY: Yep.

Cmdr. Frey: Thank you. All right, Dr. Lewis and Dr. Bussey, we'll go into your closing remarks if you have any.

DR. LEWIS: Sure, well, I just want to thank everyone for joining us. Obviously, we're incredibly excited about this announcement. One of the main reasons I came back to the Pentagon was to help enable our national efforts in hypersonics. And this is such an important step. I want to thank the whole team, the team led by, on the government side, led by Gillian, our partners in the services and the agencies that helped us do the selection. And most importantly the university members who responded to the call, who worked so hard to put this consortium together and has -- and have been so open as we've moved forward, as we developed this effort, and we -- again, this -- we truly are looking at this as a government/university partnership. This will not be a situation where we just send funding over the transom and then call up a year later and say, how's it going? This is going to be a -- a hand-in-glove partnership between our government folks and industry partners and our university colleagues. And we are just so excited about this. And I will give Dr. Bussey the last word.

DR. BUSSEY: Yeah, thank you. So as he just said, we've gained a partner today, another member of the JHTO team. They're going to be helping us formulate our S&T strategy. We're gonna be sharing with them what the Department needs. I remember earlier there was a discussion about security clearances and classification issues. The government's for it. There are going to be individuals who we can talk to frankly about what our needs are. And so I think that this partnership is gonna make DOD research stronger. It's gonna make it more -- more in tune with the latest and the greatest that's going out in the academic community. And at the same time, it's going to make what the university community is doing more relevant to what DOD needs and it's going to ease the transition of both technology and workforce into our programs. Industry is very excited about this. For the last couple of months, I keep getting questions from our --

Q: (Inaudible) two minor (inaudible) questions to do on this call (inaudible), does that work?

DR. BUSSEY: -- about how they can be involved and when the consortium's going to come online.

Q: (Inaudible). I don't think I need anything --

DR. BUSSEY: Somebody's -- your phone --

Q: There are a couple of things we could use, but nothing (inaudible), see what I mean?

DR. BUSSEY: Okay.

Cmdr. Frey: Please put your -- your phone on mute if you're not speaking.

Q: Well, I mean, I have the codes. I can get it. But let's talk about it another time. I know.

DR. LEWIS: All right.

DR. BUSSEY: Okay. Did you also hear what I -- what I was saying?

DR. LEWIS: Yeah. Hey, once again, everyone, thanks for your time.