a review of the Partnership for Research Excellence and Transition (PRET) for Advanced Concepts in Space Situational Awareness, which a member of the committee attended, and an overview briefing of AFOSR.
The current AFOSR IS&T program is executed through a variety of mechanisms:
Individual investigator grants at universities, at Air Force laboratories, and in industry. A large majority of these grants are held by academic researchers. The committee agrees with that choice, because the academic setting is well suited for long-range, basic research and has a time-tested record of success. A small number of grants are held by investigators within AFRL, which is appropriate for topics that require in-depth understanding within the Air Force or that have not yet caught the attention of strong academic researchers.
Multidisciplinary university research initiatives (MURIs). These longer-term group grants (up to 5 years) provide a good mechanism for investigating challenges requiring an unusual and/or concerted mix of efforts.
University centers. These grants enable the Air Force to establish a critical mass of expertise focused on particular Air Force challenges at selected institutions. Those institutions in turn become a resource for in-house Air Force scientists and engineers.
Partnerships for Research Excellence and Transition (PRETs). This mechanism brings together mixtures of academic, industrial, and Air Force researchers to jointly develop a new area of research (e.g., space situational awareness) while also establishing some path-