in SEDD is very positive. There is a level of energy and interest that clearly reflects a positive culture and a strong sense of value in the work that is being done.
A healthy, confident culture exists in research activities within SEDD. It appears that a research activity first determines the objective or particular ARL-critical need. Next the ARL internal strength is assessed to determine what resources need to be aligned to conduct the research; identified weaknesses are then strengthened if possible. If the necessary expertise or resources cannot be established within ARL, all technologies that are available and useful are examined around the world. If a desired technology or capability that is external to ARL is identified, collaboration is sought out among established academic researchers and/or industrial entities. And, finally, if a particular recognized research void still exists, the SEDD staff work with the Army Research Office (ARO) to define appropriate research programs, to create and solicit research proposals, and ultimately to fund research endeavors to fill the needed ARL-critical objectives. This culture was evident in quite a number of research activities and is crucial for rapid ARL mission-critical advancement.
Many projects have impressive research in materials, processing, devices, and characterization. To continue to achieve the various goals requires a great deal of infrastructure with capital equipment renewal, as well as expansion of equipment capability. Of course some activities can be carried out using resources external to ARL or within collaborative research activities. In some cases, however, capability must reside in-house. The recent acquisition of a hydrofluoric acid (HF) vapor etching tool for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) research is commendable. Such a capability will significantly advance and enhance all aspects of MEMS research from the point of view of time to completion for the fabrication of a device, fabrication yield, and the ability to create devices yet to be conceived. Acknowledging the absence of a dedicated equipment budget, the SEDD management team clearly tries to support the equipment needs of the researchers, even in times of reduced overall budgets.
SEDD evaluates its programs and modifies its focus from year to year as necessary to meet the Army’s needs. Thus there have been various changes to the directorate’s programs over the past 2 years since the previous ARLTAB report1 as the directorate’s efforts were refocused. SEDD has initiated new programs in microsystems, radar biometrics, situational awareness, compact radar, and power sources for unattended ground sensors. In parallel SEDD has intensified its focus on solid-state lasers, vision protection, sensor fusion, flexible displays, bio-inspired materials, antennas, and reserve batteries. SEDD has decreased its investments in magnetics, power MEMS, liquid reserve batteries, and platform RF sensors.
The folding of ARO into ARL appears to be going smoothly. There is a very good connection between the ARO and ARL missions. ARO provides an important liaison role between ARL in-house research and external university research. Universities are made aware of the immediate needs of the Army, and in turn ARL has a natural pathway to make use of the university research results. Undoubtedly there are organization-level efficiencies as well. The synergistic connection of SEDD and ARO was described and is clearly extremely important. Clear communication channels exist between program managers at ARO and all levels of personnel at SEDD. Research needs of ARL activities, once identified and defined, are articulated to ARO to establish research programs with opportunities for contribution by external entities, both academic and industrial. Furthermore, SEDD scientists are welcome to participate in certain ARO-funded programs if desired. Students are funded through ARO fellowships to have internships within ARL. Some ARO program activities, such as the Strategic Technology Initiatives, are chaired by a program manager from ARO in conjunction with an ARL scientist. Activities are