Executive Summary

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) supports naval engineering science and technology development programs to enable the Navy to build and operate an effective and capable fleet. This mission requires ONR to define research goals and themes, support innovative and high-quality research, and ensure the continuing availability of the necessary human capital. ONR also needs to ensure that the results of its research are useful in the design of advanced naval warships for the future. The current ONR naval engineering program faces serious limitations regarding its ability to provide an adequate supply of the creative talent and knowledge base as well as to manage the broad-based, total ship systems research programs that the Navy needs.

To address these problems, ONR asked the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Research Council (NRC) to investigate and evaluate alternative approaches for organizing and managing cooperative research programs in naval engineering. ONR stressed the need for an approach to research that promotes innovation, incorporates total systems concepts in naval engineering, and involves all stakeholders in the decision-making process. ONR believes that such programs would attract talented researchers and enable stakeholders (government, industry, academia) to collaborate and guide the research process. This study is intended to provide ONR with a basis for evaluating available cooperative research organizational options and selecting the most effective approach to meet its goals.

To respond to the ONR request, TRB convened the Committee on Options for Naval Engineering Cooperative Research. The committee received extensive presentations from experts in government, academia, and industry with a variety of perspectives on cooperative research organizations. After the presentations, the committee undertook an analytical examination of the goals, objectives, and attributes of successful and effective research organizational models. The committee was not asked to make formal recommendations and thus limited its evaluation to examining the advantages and disadvantages of selected organizational models.

This final report represents a synthesis of information gathered by the committee, along with its analyses drawing on committee members’ relevant expertise and experience. The committee first evaluated the basic organizational concepts inherent in the current system, which employs the individual investigator approach, as well as three selected models that provide a venue for cooperative research. It then identified the advantages and disadvantages of each model. Finally, it commented on features in each model that satisfy



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 1
Naval Engineering: Alternative Approaches for Organizing Cooperative Research Executive Summary The Office of Naval Research (ONR) supports naval engineering science and technology development programs to enable the Navy to build and operate an effective and capable fleet. This mission requires ONR to define research goals and themes, support innovative and high-quality research, and ensure the continuing availability of the necessary human capital. ONR also needs to ensure that the results of its research are useful in the design of advanced naval warships for the future. The current ONR naval engineering program faces serious limitations regarding its ability to provide an adequate supply of the creative talent and knowledge base as well as to manage the broad-based, total ship systems research programs that the Navy needs. To address these problems, ONR asked the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Research Council (NRC) to investigate and evaluate alternative approaches for organizing and managing cooperative research programs in naval engineering. ONR stressed the need for an approach to research that promotes innovation, incorporates total systems concepts in naval engineering, and involves all stakeholders in the decision-making process. ONR believes that such programs would attract talented researchers and enable stakeholders (government, industry, academia) to collaborate and guide the research process. This study is intended to provide ONR with a basis for evaluating available cooperative research organizational options and selecting the most effective approach to meet its goals. To respond to the ONR request, TRB convened the Committee on Options for Naval Engineering Cooperative Research. The committee received extensive presentations from experts in government, academia, and industry with a variety of perspectives on cooperative research organizations. After the presentations, the committee undertook an analytical examination of the goals, objectives, and attributes of successful and effective research organizational models. The committee was not asked to make formal recommendations and thus limited its evaluation to examining the advantages and disadvantages of selected organizational models. This final report represents a synthesis of information gathered by the committee, along with its analyses drawing on committee members’ relevant expertise and experience. The committee first evaluated the basic organizational concepts inherent in the current system, which employs the individual investigator approach, as well as three selected models that provide a venue for cooperative research. It then identified the advantages and disadvantages of each model. Finally, it commented on features in each model that satisfy

OCR for page 1
Naval Engineering: Alternative Approaches for Organizing Cooperative Research the goals and objectives of ONR to revitalize the field of naval engineering and improve naval ship design and production. GOALS AND OBJECTIVES FOR COOPERATIVE RESEARCH ORGANIZATIONS The government and the private sector have used a number of different approaches to organize and execute research programs and projects to meet their goals and objectives. Each organizational model has characteristics that make it more or less effective in achieving stated goals and objectives. ONR has two overall goals that it needs to achieve in adopting a model for naval engineering cooperative research: (a) to maintain and develop human capital and (b) to revitalize naval engineering and improve ship design and production. To compare approaches for organizing naval engineering research, the committee further defined these two goals in terms of specific objectives and sets of attributes against which possible organizational models could be evaluated. Ensuring an adequate supply of human capital for advanced naval ship systems design and production into the future is a multifaceted problem. The key objectives embodied under this goal include attracting students, attracting and retaining faculty, providing continuing education opportunities, and fostering the development of “total ship engineers.” Naval engineering graduates and practicing professionals need to approach ship design, development, and production/construction from the “total ship” point of view in order to meet the challenges of the future Navy. Hence, the concept of “total ship engineer” must be infused into the education and professional development of future naval engineers. With regard to the second ONR goal, there is a critical need for the U.S. ship design community to revitalize its ability to accomplish creative new research and to support higher-performing, cost-effective designs and more innovative ship systems engineering. In addition, research results need to be transferred to the next stage of technology development and used in actual ship designs. DESCRIPTION OF THE SELECTED ORGANIZATIONAL MODELS After reviewing an array of existing organizational models and several proposed new approaches, the committee decided to focus on a small number of core strategies for organizing cooperative research programs. It first identified the individual principal investigator model as the one currently used by ONR for most of its research programs, and thus that model became the base or reference model for purposes of the committee’s discussions and evaluations. Next it selected three cooperative models to evaluate that represent

OCR for page 1
Naval Engineering: Alternative Approaches for Organizing Cooperative Research three different underlying organizational approaches and that incorporate the features of most existing and proposed models. The three models are the professional society/community of practitioners model, the consortium model, and the project-centered model. The committee made two assumptions about the functioning of all three models: (a) they would all perform the contracting functions for individual projects funded by ONR and (b) they would all propose annual research themes, present them to ONR for approval, and then contract for and manage the individual projects that make up the program defined by the themes. The professional society model is characterized by being directed by the community of practitioners in the field. This community is usually organized into professional societies such as the American Society of Naval Engineers and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. In this model, the professional society would establish a research council, typically a not-for-profit organization, to organize and manage the research program. The council is typically made up of representatives from the various stakeholders. It would have an administrative support staff, and its composition and leadership would be structured to achieve a desired balance. In this model, committees are used to perform various tasks in support of the research council, and committee membership can be drawn from society membership. In the consortium model, the basic organizational structure is a permanent entity, or center, that provides ongoing management of the research, education, outreach, and technology transfer activities. Typically, a director would lead the consortium and be supported by an administrative and contract management staff. The director would normally report to an executive committee composed of representatives from the various stakeholders. To solicit input and disseminate information to the wider community, the executive committee would establish affiliate committees, advisory boards, industrial liaison groups, and outreach specialists. In the project-centered model, an executive council similar in composition to that in the consortium model would establish research themes and handle the processing and review of proposals. The council would be permanent but typically would have staged, rotating membership. The council chair would provide the principal leadership for the committee and oversee a small administrative support staff. Additional input on research themes would be handled via workshops and open forums, through professional society committees, or by industry associations. This model would usually focus on large, multidisciplinary projects. For each project a technical review committee would be established to prepare requests for proposals, evaluate the proposals, and assess ongoing performance. The technical review committee would remain in existence as long as the project is active but would cease when the project is completed or terminated. Individual project organizations would be added as projects are approved and funded but disbanded as they are completed.

OCR for page 1
Naval Engineering: Alternative Approaches for Organizing Cooperative Research FINDINGS Evaluation of Models The committee evaluated each model on the basis of how well it appears to accomplish the ONR program goals and objectives. It is clear that some models are better at fulfilling certain objectives while others are better at fulfilling other objectives. Thus the overall selection of one of the models as superior to another is only possible by weighing the relative importance of each objective and thus justifying such a selection. The committee’s evaluation of the selected models leads to the following general findings concerning their overall advantages and disadvantages. Baseline Model The committee found that the individual investigator model (the baseline for this study) is excellent at promoting innovation and will continue to provide this value if it is maintained as a part of any future naval engineering research program. However, the committee found it to be inadequate to meet all of the program objectives under the ONR goals as stated above. Thus, it is desirable to consider cooperative organizational models that may have the capacity to remedy the deficiencies in the current system. Cooperative Research Models All three models for cooperative research organizations that were evaluated by the committee were found to be capable of meeting all of the ONR program objectives. With regard to their ability to meet human capital and naval engineering and design objectives, the consortium model was found better than the professional society model, but both were significantly better than the project-centered model. Table ES-1 shows how well each of the three models fulfills the stated objectives. The absolute ranking of these models, however, will depend on the relative importance given by ONR to each objective. Evaluation Based on Specific Objectives In its evaluation process the committee found that the three cooperative research models had the following attributes for meeting certain specific objectives: Both the consortium and project-centered models encourage innovative research. However, one key to implementing the research into innovative ship design is the ability of the Navy and other stakeholders to overcome the natural tendency of an organization to resist change such as that associated with the use of new technology in ship acquisition.

OCR for page 1
Naval Engineering: Alternative Approaches for Organizing Cooperative Research TABLE ES-1 Summary of Cooperative Research Organizational Models and How Well They Meet Objectives     Baseline Model Professional Society Model Consortium Model Project-Centered Model Human capital objectives   Attract students Medium High High Medium   Retain and attract new faculty Medium Medium High Medium   Provide continuing education Low High High Medium   Foster total ship engineers Low High High Medium Naval engineering design objectives   Create new research opportunities Low Medium High Medium   Promote innovation High Medium High High   Ensure research useful to ship design Low Medium High High All of the cooperative models possess characteristics in varying degrees that encourage research useful to advanced ship technology and design development. However, the consortium and project-centered models involve a higher degree of stakeholder participation in important areas that will be described in the body of the report. Therefore, they have a higher probability of meeting the Navy’s needs in this area. Total ship engineers are developed through a combination of a formal total ship design curriculum and hands-on design experience gained in working on multidisciplinary projects. Regardless of the model selected, the ability to foster total ship engineers depends on the opportunities available to all stakeholders that enable them to obtain the necessary formal education in total ship design and hands-on design experience. Particular Merits of the Three Cooperative Research Models In its evaluation process, the committee found that each of the three cooperative research models possessed the following particular merits: The professional society/community of practice model excels in meeting the need to develop human capital. This model has the potential to be particularly strong in attracting and retaining students, in supporting continuing education and training programs, and in fostering the education and development of total ship engineers. This strength is based on the fact that these are principal missions of professional societies. The consortium model is well suited to meeting all the human capital development and naval engineering design objectives. Its success in meeting

OCR for page 1
Naval Engineering: Alternative Approaches for Organizing Cooperative Research these objectives will be principally determined by the leadership of the consortium and its ability to adequately represent and balance the needs of the various stakeholders. The project-centered model has the potential to excel in promoting both innovation in naval engineering design and research that is useful to ship design and production. This strength is based on the large-scale, interdisciplinary project focus inherent in this model, which includes participation and encourages collaboration of the key stakeholders. Possibility of Hybrid Models The committee found that desirable features and attributes of the models might be combined to create hybrid models. Such models might be used to maximize the performance of the research organization in meeting program objectives. The hybrids, however, generally increase the complexity in managing the research enterprise. Examples of hybrids might include embedding the individual investigator model into any of the three cooperative models discussed, including the project-centered approach in the consortium and professional society models, and embedding both the project-centered and individual investigator models into the consortium or professional society models. The committee has not evaluated these hybrids but has only noted that such combinations are always available to a creative manager. Operational Considerations in Implementing Research Models During its evaluation of the selected cooperative research models, the committee found that successful operations and functioning of an organization are often independent of the selection of its fixed structure. Therefore, regardless of which cooperative research model ONR chooses to implement, certain overall factors are critical to the success of its naval engineering research program and should be carefully considered in the implementation process. The following operational or functional elements are critical to the ability of any organization to meet ONR’s goals and objectives. Management Issues The mechanisms outlined in this report for the contracting, the managing, and the oversight of cooperative research organizational models can allow ONR to meet the Navy’s needs without adding significantly to its current management burden. In particular, the annual reviews, which are part of all models, allow for directing the research themes toward successful and pertinent results as well as providing flexibility to meet future changes. These management mechanisms, however, will need to be reviewed and evaluated to ensure that they fit the particular models selected.

OCR for page 1
Naval Engineering: Alternative Approaches for Organizing Cooperative Research Setting a Research Agenda A fundamental issue in structuring a cooperative research program to meet ONR’s goals is the process and manner of setting the research agenda. The committee found that in a true cooperative program, all the major stakeholders have both a shared interest and shared ownership in the research agenda. For any of the organizational models to be successful, it must provide a structure and mechanism to allow appropriately balanced representation and input to the research agenda from stakeholders. Selecting a Host Location The committee found that, independent of which cooperative research organizational model or combination of models ONR selects, the location of the research organization host is very important. The choice of venue has a strong potential impact on all stakeholders, especially academia, because of the small size of the naval engineering community and the dependence of each institution on the Navy for funding. Careful consideration should be given to the choice of location, to the establishment and maintenance of an appropriate balance of participation from all the stakeholders, and to potential rotations in membership of the governing bodies. Conducting Merit Reviews The committee found that, to be successful, merit review of the research in all models should take place at three stages in the process: when the proposal is approved, annually during the course of the research work, and when the project is completed. A merit review panel should be carefully balanced to ensure that innovative high-risk ideas are not lost and that the results address the Navy’s needs. In addition, the merit review process will be affected by the fact that the naval engineering community is small and the number and variety of quality research institutions are limited. The committee found that, regardless of model selection, the small size of this community will necessitate resourcefulness in assembling a qualified and conflict-free group of individuals with balanced biases as reviewers for research proposals, progress, and outcomes. Executive Council Balance The committee found that, to promote cooperative work, balance in the leadership of the executive council, or governing body of the organization, is critical. The leadership of each of the three cooperative research organizations that the committee reviewed would be vested in an executive council under

OCR for page 1
Naval Engineering: Alternative Approaches for Organizing Cooperative Research a variety of names. Alternative strategies in establishing the size, composition, tenure, leadership, and decision-making process of this council will strongly affect the overall success of the organization and the R&D programs it manages. The representation of the three principal stakeholders on the council will affect the degree to which the constituencies are served and the philosophy, priorities, and direction that the research program will follow. Perception of Balance The committee found that it is inherently difficult for the stakeholders in this enterprise to collaborate because they have not had a record of cooperative work and their governing bodies have few continuing relationships. Therefore, any new cooperative research organization should develop the needed collaborative process from the beginning. In addition, the perception of balance is often as important as actual balance. For example, if the headquarters of a consortium is located at one of several universities, companies, or laboratories that are in competition for resources, the perception of imbalance in favor of that organization is inevitable. Steps to offset this perception would need to be included in the organizational structure and operations planning. Education The committee found that the educational objectives of ONR are important to its long-term success, and each model has some attributes that will contribute to the objectives if they are given adequate attention. The individual investigator model will probably have a moderate impact on the education of naval engineers in the overall sense, by which is meant primary, secondary, undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education. The consortium model has a high potential to promote educational objectives. The professional society model also has a high potential, but its actual effectiveness would depend on the provisions of individual proposals. The project-centered model by itself is expected to have little or no direct impact on education without special or additional efforts.