sistent assessment of how the customers’ needs match with the current research and development activities; (2) alignment of funding and personnel resources in the light of shifting missions and budgets; and (3) tweaking of the constraints to adjust the flow of innovation. A permanent director is needed for SEDD.
The recently initiated multiscale modeling CRAs are ambitious yet necessary efforts. ARL is to be commended for establishing the two CRAs, the MSME, and the Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments (MEDE). Under the MSME, a multi-university team is charged with doing the fundamental multiscale modeling on lithium batteries, fuel cells, electronic materials, and devices. ARL will perform the supporting experimental work. Given the substantial issues concerning the premise of bridging the scales in multiscale modeling, many challenges (and thus opportunities) exist in demonstrating verifiable success in the 5-year timeframe. Close interactions of ARL personnel with the multi-university team selected will be critical to ensure a focused and productive group effort. A potential challenge is to make sure that the multi-university team, with principal investigators having different (not necessarily overlapping) skills, remains focused and delivers value to ARL.
Work on the MAST program has been impressive. However, supplying ample power to autonomous devices is a challenging problem, and it is not clear whether a solution is in sight. Work to design a fully integrated MAST with power onboard may be needed and may lead to a system design that is achievable in a realistic timeframe.
ARL has outstanding fabrication facilities. Many projects that use the facilities also require micro-structural characterization at the nanometer scale. SEDD, and more generally ARL, should make every effort to ensure that characterization facilities, such as high-resolution and analytical electron microscopy, are readily available. Moreover, in-house characterization capabilities will have to keep pace with the quality of the fabrication equipment.
The quality of research being conducted within SEDD is excellent. This is reflected in the numerous awards received by the SEDD scientific staff, by the number of refereed publications authored and co-authored, and by the number of presentations given at professional society meetings. By these metrics, ARL compares favorably with other private and university-based research institutions. There is no doubt that SEDD is conducting world-class research.
SEDD researchers are efficient at leveraging ongoing research that appears in the technical literature, at technical conferences, and through contacts with active researchers. They have the enormous task of understanding the needs of an astonishingly broad range of Army applications and then providing innovative solutions. From a technical viewpoint, they are performing this mission quite well.
It is impressive that in this context SEDD endeavors to predict Army needs that are one to two decades out. For example, extreme energy science has been identified as a strategic initiative for the laboratory. In response, SEDD staff has successfully combined in-house capabilities and external collaborations to quickly lead the scientific community working in this nascent field.
The ARL/SEDD policy of involving undergraduates, graduates, and postdoctoral fellows as part of in-house research efforts is not only a wonderful vehicle to educate the nation’s workforce but also a great coupling with educational institutions that might or might not have formal research contracts with ARL. This practice is beneficial to all involved, and its continual implementation should be encouraged.