ACCELERATING THE DELIVERY OF INNOVATION TO THE WARFIGHTER
Kristen Baldwin delivered the first keynote address. As the deputy director of Strategic Technology Protection and Exploitation within the Department of Defense (DoD) Research and Engineering Enterprise, Baldwin oversees program protection policy, hardware and software assurance, trusted and assured microelectronics, and defense manufacturing technology.
With more than 1,200 partnerships spanning industry, nonprofits, and academia, the manufacturing institutes are a valuable part of the technology ecosystem that delivers innovations to warfighters, Baldwin said. Each institute’s activities, combined with the exchange of expertise and investments among the institutes as a community, advance the overall goal of maintaining the United States’ position as the global technological leader. After more than $3 billion in investment by DoD, industry, state, local, noncore, and project sources, membership continues to grow. Industry partners including Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, DuPont, Ford, New Balance, Boeing, and General Electric all share the institutes’ goals of improving supply chains, accelerating innovation, and enabling systems and equipment production, both for their own companies and for the nation. As DoD looks to capitalize on the significant investments made thus far and to continue to advance these crucial goals, Baldwin underscored the value of community input on the manufacturing institutes’ past activities and future directions.
DoD Organization and Approach
Baldwin offered an overview of DoD’s organization and approach to fueling a strong technology industrial base in the United States. As part of a recent reorganization, Michael Griffin was appointed Undersecretary for Research and Innovation, establishing a new office with a special focus on strategic technology protection. This office seeks to enhance warfighter and technology dominance by ensuring that the manufacturing institutes help the United States maintain its global leadership position, creating future roles for the technology manufacturing community, and enabling the continued modernization of the technology industrial base.
DoD has outlined three specific avenues to accomplish these goals. The first is to create superior mission systems that are resilient to exploitation. The second is to protect and preserve advanced technological practices in the United States and among strategic allies. The third is to create a competitive, innovative national security industrial base. Each avenue is supported by a corresponding directorate within DoD’s Research and Engineering Enterprise: Resilient Systems, Maintaining Technology Advantage, and Technology and Manufacturing Industrial Base.
The Resilient Systems directorate includes multiple engineering activities that have matured in recent years, such as biohardware and software assurances. For the past several years, DoD has worked to ensure that its systems’ hardware and software are resilient, tamper-free, and follow strict supply chain risk management.
The Maintaining Technology Advantage directorate prevents and combats exploitation activities. This body shares information with intelligence, counterintelligence, and law enforcement partners, enabling faster iteration, a better awareness of exploitations or supply chain risks, and an overall presence that is proactive and preventative, rather than reactive and repair-focused. Pilot tests have shown that sharing information among these communities and taking advantage of their various technological expertise enhances security in critical technology areas, Baldwin said.
The Technology and Manufacturing Industrial Base directorate focuses on emerging technologies in the national industrial base and the manufacturing institutes. In response to a workshop attendee’s question about the possibility of restructuring the manufacturing institutes, Baldwin noted that it is first important to study whether the current foundation is meeting DoD objectives or if different structures would offer opportunities for improvement. The institutes have evolved organically based on their respective focus areas, and some might benefit from transformation, perhaps learning from the successes of other institutes. However, no matter how they are structured, Baldwin reiterated that DoD sees the institutes as a critical component of its organization and mission.
The Role of Manufacturing in Supporting National Strategies
The national security and national defense strategies affirm the importance of technological advancements in the competition for global power. DoD has invested in industry partnerships to fuel these advancements, but these partnerships will work only with a strong, focused, and rigorous industrial base, Baldwin stressed. The nation’s economic competitiveness and military advantage are closely intertwined, and the domestic industrial base is critical to supporting and sustaining both.
Baldwin said that the manufacturing technology community can play an important role in helping to realize three top priorities expressed by the acting Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan: a more lethal force, a strengthening of U.S. alliances and partnerships, and DoD business reform. The current national security industrial base is in the midst of a sea change. It is modernizing its culture, mindset, and systems, with the goal of enhanced efficiency in creating and delivering warfighting capabilities, which spans weapons and business systems, military construction, and research and technology development opportunities.
The White House recently published the Strategy for American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing, developed by an interagency team that included the Departments of Defense, Energy, Commerce, Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, as well as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation.1 One of its expressed priorities is to strengthen the U.S. manufacturing base by developing and transitioning new manufacturing technologies, enhancing workforce development, and expanding domestic supply chain capabilities. DoD is supporting this priority through current and planned investments. As part of this effort, Baldwin’s office has outlined three priorities that closely align with the manufacturing institutes and the overall national strategies for advancing the technology ecosystem: ensuring innovation and relevance in technology development, cultivating a healthy industrial base, and developing the workforce to support it.
Ensuring Innovation and Relevance
The first priority is to ensure innovation and relevance in technology development and adoption. The nation’s technological superiority is underpinned by a healthy defense laboratory infrastructure, a robust industrial base, and active industry and academic partnerships. These all require sound investment plans,
1 Committee on Technology of the National Science and Technology Council, 2018, Strategy for American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing, White Paper, Subcommittee on Advanced Manufacturing, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Advanced-ManufacturingStrategic-Plan-2018.pdf.
stable budgets, and a defense acquisition system to leverage and adopt innovation, Baldwin noted. In contrast to DoD’s previous lengthy acquisition programs that failed to create rapid adoption, Baldwin emphasized that DoD is now focused on technology prototyping, rapid development, and rapid fielding to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Baldwin outlined her office’s 10 modernization priorities. Some are mission-focused, such as networked command and control, space offense and defense, missile defense, and cyber and nuclear modernization. Others are technology-focused: hypersonics, directed energy, machine learning, quantum science, and microelectronics, an area that Baldwin herself oversees. Each priority will have its own near- and long-term roadmap, associate director, and investment strategy. Each also will have a key active technology, creating natural opportunities for collaboration with the manufacturing institutes, Baldwin said.
Cultivating a Healthy Industrial Base
Baldwin stressed that, in order to retain its defensive and economic dominance, the United States must have a healthy industrial base with rapid and efficient domestic supply chains. Globalization creates a rapid democratization of new technologies, leveling the playing field for the nation’s peer competitors, whose increasing prosperity enables more significant technological investments. For example, China reached research and development investment parity with the United States in 2018, 2 years ahead of predictions.
In response to an attendee’s question, Baldwin noted that China competes with the United States in every technology area, both in the realm of defense and commercially. To protect U.S. investments and stay competitive, she continued, each industrial base should pinpoint fragilities, involve appropriate institutes, share information, assess supply chain integrity, and identify risks, especially with regard to intellectual property (IP).
A report commissioned by Executive Order 13806, Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Industrial Base Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States, made suggestions relevant to current manufacturing and supply chain concerns.2 Multiple factors, including budget uncertainties, national policies in competing countries, offshoring, and lack of talent, have created weaknesses in sub-tier defense supply chains. In addition, the report noted substantial dependence on both allied
2 U.S. Department of Defense, 2018, Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Industrial Base Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States, White Paper, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment and Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy, https://media.defense.gov/2018/oct/05/2002048904/-1/-1/1/assessing-andstrengthening-the-manufacturing-and%20defense-industrial-base-and-supply-chain-resiliency.pdf.
and competitor nations. Two recommendations are directly relevant to manufacturers—to expand supply chain investment and capabilities and to accelerate workforce development.
Supply chain investments and enhancements are best made through public–private partnerships, Baldwin said. DoD created its Manufacturing Technology initiative (ManTech), overseen by the Joint Manufacturing Technology Working Group, in this model. ManTech has several core partnerships and projects to align investments and identify critical gaps. It aims to increase innovation speed and create off-ramps where scientific discoveries can quickly become warfighting equipment.
The industrial base is only as good as the people who run it, Baldwin emphasized, and continued talent growth is essential to translating research into technology, transforming technology into warfighting tools, and enabling the United States to retain its global edge. To that end, Baldwin urged all partners to work together on improving workforce skills.
Each institute has specific activities in workforce development, including apprenticeships, technical education, and other training opportunities to prepare U.S. workers for advanced manufacturing jobs. In addition, DoD and many other federal agencies have created a new manufacturing, education, and workforce development strategy that is highly science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-centered. These activities have several objectives. One is to develop flexible, nontraditional training and hands-on experiential models to expand the workforce development pipeline. Another is to upskill the current workforce through expanded credentialing to increase career advancement and capabilities. In addition, these efforts seek to expand advanced degree programs to develop deeper technical knowledge, as well as to enhance K-12 pathways and exposure to advanced manufacturing opportunities.
In closing, Baldwin reiterated the value of the workshop and the committee’s efforts as DoD considers the role and structure of the manufacturing institutes going forward. She underscored the relevance of the institutes in the context of DoD’s alignment with national security and defense strategies and the United States’ ability to be the first to develop and adopt innovations through bold, risk-tolerant investment in critical technology areas. Increasingly, the focus on improved technology adoption requires new processes and delivery capabilities, Baldwin noted. A key challenge for DoD and the institutes, she concluded, is to improve
manufacturer readiness levels to deliver these capabilities within time and cost limits that make them relevant to the cause of the warfighter.
EXPECTATIONS OF DOD MANUFACTURING INSTITUTES: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
Jeffrey Wilcox, vice president for Digital Transformation at Lockheed Martin, gave the second keynote address. He oversees design, development, and implementation at the company, which he described as a “systems integrator” rather than strictly a manufacturing company. (Lockheed Martin stewards a supply chain with more than 30,000 suppliers.) Wilcox offered insights on the value and structure of the manufacturing institutes from the industry perspective.
Lockheed Martin has been a partner in the manufacturing institutes since the program’s beginning, helping, along with other industry, government, and academic partners, to fuel its growth into an ecosystem with billions of dollars of investments. While the company has invested a great deal of resources into the program, an even more critical investment, Wilcox emphasized, has been time. Currently a member of eight institutes, Lockheed Martin is proud not only to contribute to the work of the institutes but also to help steer and shape them, including in senior leadership positions. Wilcox himself is on the Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute board.
The manufacturing institutes have evolved in parallel with a changing industrial landscape. Manufacturing is no longer the distinct function it was decades ago, nor is it separate from design and sustainment, Wilcox noted. While products once overshadowed design and manufacturing processes, in the digital era, data itself is the commodity. Manufacturing is now one part of the system that creates value from data, and at the heart of that system is operations. Against that backdrop, Wilcox described how Lockheed Martin values its investments in the manufacturing institutes in terms of four criteria: partnerships, shared investment, standards and supply chain, and customer engagement.
Partnerships are the most important value proposition for industrial participation in the manufacturing institutes, Wilcox said. Many businesses today are struggling with the same questions, such as how to take a strategic approach to data or how to balance businesses and the enterprise level. Partnerships enable companies to benefit from shared learning, guidance on best practices, and precompetitive research. They can also lead to solutions for common challenges such as communication, workforce engagement, or new process creation.
Nontraditional partnerships can be especially rich in these respects, as are partnerships with small and medium-size businesses. Some smaller businesses have even become part of the Lockheed Martin supply chain through participation in the manufacturing institutes. The National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership serves as an additional connector between the institutes and more than 25,000 smaller companies.
Pooling resources with other organizations and facilities is another benefit. Some institutes have actual facilities and house the latest technology for members to use. Lockheed Martin gets a large return on investment from these shared resources, Wilcox said. When asked during the discussion if the scale and continuity of manufacturing institutes’ investments were sufficient, Wilcox replied that continuity is perhaps of even greater importance than the dollar amount, as it enables companies to focus on research and not fundraising. Funding is especially vital to smaller companies, he noted.
Standards and Supply Chain
To the extent that institutes can get new materials more quickly standardized, certified, and qualified, they offer great benefits to Lockheed Martin’s supply chains, Wilcox said. He noted that one institute, America Makes, has already improved new materials certification, a process that used to take up to 10 years, an incredibly long time in the digital world and anathema to DoD’s goal of getting new capabilities to warfighters quickly.
The institutes have also given Lockheed Martin a deeper understanding of capabilities, challenges, and weaknesses in the overall U.S. supply chains, Wilcox said. Small and medium-size companies have very different issues, and to fix them it is important first to know what they are. It is extremely valuable for the industry as a whole to learn about other companies’ markets, constraints, and concerns, from workforce issues to taxes to technology needs.
In the discussion, Byron Clayton, Advanced Robotics, asked how partnerships could help smaller companies identify supply chain weaknesses. Noting that smaller companies do not always have time or resources to prioritize this challenge, Wilcox suggested that larger companies could help, perhaps through site visits or engagement with chambers of commerce, to identify weaknesses and opportunities for existing bodies to address them.
Many of Lockheed Martin’s customers are also members of the institutes, and it makes good business sense to join them and have a shared conversation, discuss national priorities, shape the national agenda, and identify grand challenges facing the public sector and the nation, Wilcox said. This exchange between customers and businesses can facilitate a consistent shared vision, especially for supply chain companies that need stability if they are to invest in equipment and training.
Opportunities for Improvement
Wilcox identified four areas keeping Lockheed Martin from reaping the greatest benefit from its work with the institutes: process, workforce, focus, and engagement.
Many of the pain points are process-related. It can take years for ideas to generate contracts, which is far too long to be truly responsive to emerging opportunities and needs. Perhaps the National Institutes of Health “Fast-Track Applications,” which expedite award decisions and funding, could be replicated at the institutes, Wilcox suggested. In addition, more standardization—for example, with regard to IP terms, institute reporting, and membership agreements—would increase efficiency and allow more time for research, as would streamlining the bid proposal process.
Workforce issues, especially a lack of skilled workers, is another limiting factor. While some workers have been upskilled or retrained, there is an opportunity for the entire community to address workforce development holistically. Wilcox suggested that there might also be a role for engaging unions. Unions are one of the largest training entities in the United States, but they are not currently involved in the institutes. In response to a question, Wilcox clarified that Lockheed Martin’s current urgent need is qualification and certification consistency for advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity. The current patchwork of different certifications and skills is problematic for identifying and hiring qualified workers efficiently.
The institutes all have different focuses, but Wilcox noted that many of them are driven by academic interests as opposed to their original purpose: meeting community needs and improving technology readiness levels. It is important to industry contributors that the institutes have an industry-driven research agenda, he emphasized.
In terms of engagement, Wilcox stressed that it would be valuable for the institutes to more fully and holistically engage standards boards. The institutes could also take the responsibility for communicating current and future engagements of this shared industrial ecosystem.
In closing, Wilcox noted that manufacturing is not only part of U.S. national security and economic prosperity but also part of U.S. national identity. The institutes should continue to work together to understand and balance public and private sector needs and capabilities and move forward intentionally. Public–private partnerships have been around for centuries—Alexander Hamilton was a well-known proponent—but there has been no consistent template for success. Creating one for the institutes would have enormous benefits.