National Academies Press: OpenBook

Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering (2019)

Chapter: 1 Study Background, Request, and Approach

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Suggested Citation:"1 Study Background, Request, and Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25601.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Study Background, Request, and Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25601.
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Suggested Citation:"1 Study Background, Request, and Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25601.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Study Background, Request, and Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25601.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Study Background, Request, and Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25601.
×
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Suggested Citation:"1 Study Background, Request, and Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25601.
×
Page 16
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Suggested Citation:"1 Study Background, Request, and Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25601.
×
Page 17
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Suggested Citation:"1 Study Background, Request, and Approach." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25601.
×
Page 18

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PREPUBLICATION COPY—Uncorrected Proofs 11 1 Study Background, Request, and Approach BACKGROUND The Office of Naval Research (ONR) conducts the extramural science and technology (S&T) programs of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps. Headed by the Chief of Naval Research, ONR includes six departments that fund programs in support of S&T research areas outlined in Navy strategic planning documents. In 2001, ONR designated naval engineering, ocean acoustics, underwater weaponry, and undersea medicine as National Naval Responsibilities (NNRs). A fifth technical area, sea-based aviation, was added to the NNRs in 2011. These designations stemmed from recognition that the Navy must have a robust and focused research community to advance the state of the art and to generate an adequate pipeline of new scientists and engineers in the S&T disciplines important to strengthening the capabilities and performance of the Navy’s fleet and operational forces. The technical areas designated as NNRs were viewed as being essential to innovation in naval capabilities and performance and warranting special attention by ONR because no other govenrmental agency or commercial interest could be expected to continually support research intended to sustain and further them. The NNRs were thus envisaged as having the purpose of establishing direction and long- term goals for a related set of basic and applied research programs.4 In the case of the NNR for Naval Engineering (NNR-NE), ONR was tasked with dedicating the resources needed to develop innovative shipbuilding concepts applicable to critical interests of the Navy, particularly in the areas of ship power, hydromechanics, propulsors, structural reliability, control and automation, and design. It was expected that ONR would conduct major field experiments that integrate technologies into innovative ship concepts and invest in students and research infrastructure. ONR was also charged with examining the health of the national S&T enterprise vital to the long-term strength of naval engineering and with sustaining this health through means such as developing university-industry-laboratory consortia and encouraging industry-university partnerships for career development of future naval engineers. The 2001 memorandum designating the NNRs was followed by additional policy documents specifying required activities in the specific NNR initiatives and the functions and responsibilities of the program office responsible for administering them. One of the requirements is for the NNRs to be reviewed every 5 years by an independent body. Thus, in 2009, ONR commissioned the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies), operating through the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and its Marine Board, to convene a committee to review the state of basic and applied research in the scientific fields that support naval engineering and to advise on whether the NNR-NE initiative has been effective in sustaining these fields. The study committee was also asked to identify opportunities to enhance innovation, research, and graduate education in these fields and to identify areas of scientific research that provide opportunities to make fundamental advances in naval ship capabilities. 4 Gaffney, P., F.E. Saalfeld, and J.F. Petrik. 1999. Science and Technology from an Investment Point of View: How ONR Handles Department of the Navy’s Portfolio. Public Management, Sept.-Oct., pp. 12-17.

PREPUBLICATION COPY—Uncorrected Proofs 12 The TRB study committee that produced the report, Naval Engineering in the 21st Century: The Science and Technology Foundation for Future Naval Fleets,5 conducted its work during 2009 and 2010. To inform its effort, the committee commissioned a set of papers, invited presentations, and held workshops engaging experts on topics relevant to naval engineering research needs and opportunities. These papers, presentations, and workshops informed the committee’s observations about particular areas of research that hold promise for advancing the critical naval engineering interests of the NNR-NE. The committee also sought data from ONR on its prioritization and programming of funds for research as well as on educational activities to attract students and train beginning researchers in relevant fields. For example, the committee tabulated ONR’s total spending on basic and applied research and education in the naval engineering fields, the number of projects by performing sector (e.g., universities, Navy labs, and industry), and the division of projects across the NNR-NE’s technical fields. The committee also reviewed ONR’s output metrics associated with this spending, including papers and book chapters published, number of principal investigators, and number of graduate and undergraduate students supported by NNR-NE-sponsored work. The subject matter of the main conclusions and recommendations of the 2011 TRB report is listed in Box 1-1. The study committee concluded that the NNRs are a useful means of organizing ONR’s support for basic and applied research in the S&T fields, especially for naval engineering because this enterprise draws from a large number of technical fields that depend on Navy interest and support. The study committee recommended that ONR carry out regular and systematic assessments of the state of health of these fields to better program its resources. The committee also offered a series of recommendations for identifying and exploiting opportunities to enhance research and education pertaining to naval engineering and to improve the effectiveness of the NNR-NE initiative through means such as strategic planning, measuring the balance of the portfolio, conducting external reviews of proposals and projects, and emphasizing interdisciplinary and integrative research. BOX 1-1 Subject Matter of TRB Special Report 306: Naval Engineering in the 21st Century: The Science and Technology Foundation for Future Naval Fleets 1. Need for and value of NNR-NE 2. State of S&T supporting naval engineering Research Education Infrastructure 3. Wholeness of the ONR NNR-NE research portfolio Overall portfolio Portfolio in each technical field 4. Opportunities to enhance research and education Enhancing research Enhancing education 5See http://www.trb.org/main/blurbs/165502.aspx.

PREPUBLICATION COPY—Uncorrected Proofs 13 5. NNR-NE effectiveness Overall NNR-NE effectiveness Increasing NNR-NE effectiveness REQUEST FOR THIS STUDY In keeping with the expectation that the NNR-NE undergo an independent review every 5 years, in 2017 ONR commissioned this follow-on study. As with the 2011 study, ONR asked for an assessment of the status of efforts under the NNR-NE to ensure that a healthy S&T and educational enterprise exists and is capable of meeting the future technology needs of the Navy for developing highly capable and affordable sea systems. However, certain aspects of the study charge, or Statement of Task, were changed in comparison to the charge given to the first study committee. That earlier study was commissioned when the NNRs were still in their formative stages, and thus that study committee’s report provided guidance on how ONR should carry out the NNR-NE both strategically (e.g., by advising ONR to dedicate resources to problems whose solutions have broad applicability to future ship programs) and procedurally (e.g., by recommending the development of an enterprise-wide information system for making information on NNR-NE projects available to proposers and for communicating achievements). Consequently, the report contains 20 recommendations intended to both inform ONR’s vision for the NNR-NE program and its scoping and management of the program. The full Statement of Task for this study is provided in Box 1-2. It was not conceived as a simple update of the earlier report; for instance, the committee was not asked to compare the number of papers, students, and principal investigators supported by the program since 2011. Indeed, the gathering and analysis of such output data had not yielded significant insights when undertaken during the first study. The 2011 committee, which was specifically tasked with collecting, synthesizing, and evaluating data on the core technical fields of the NNR-NE, pointed out how such metrics “fall short of adequate measures of the benefit of ONR’s investment in NNRs.”6 Instead, this second study was conceived to be more strategic in its orientation, intended to inform ONR’s choices as it positions a now mature NNR-NE to respond to physical, operational, and technology environments that have evolved significantly since the NNRs were created in the early 2000s. Accordingly, ONR asked the committee to consider whether there are other technical areas that warrant greater attention by the program, including cybersecurity of connected vessels and future unmanned naval systems. 6 See http://www.trb.org/main/blurbs/165502.aspx, p. 12.

PREPUBLICATION COPY—Uncorrected Proofs 14 The assessment and advice in this report were informed by the committee’s many consultations with officials from ONR’s Advanced Naval Platforms Program, which administers the NNR-NE program, Navy leadership and fleet representatives, other U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) officials, industry performers, and academic researchers (see Appendix A for a list of invited speakers and presenters). Figure 1-1 shows the position of the Advanced Naval Platforms Program within the organizational structures of the Department of the Navy and ONR. In meetings with the committee to discuss the study charge, officials from the Advanced Naval Platforms Division explained their reasoning for looking outside the traditional NE domains. They pointed to drivers of change such as the Navy’s critical interest in developing advanced power systems (e.g., energy on demand, integrate power and energy) to accommodate next generation weaponry, exploiting the capabilities of the rapidly changing digital world (e.g., model-based engineering, artificial intelligence, rapid software updates), ensuring the cybersecurity of highly integrated electro-mechanical systems, and bringing about highly reliable, survivable autonomy. They pointed to the implications of such critical interests on the BOX 1-2 Statement of Task The study will inform the Office of Naval Research (ONR) on the status of its efforts under the National Naval Responsibilities for Naval Engineering (NNR-NE) program to ensure that a healthy science and technology (S&T) and educational enterprise exists and is capable of meeting the future technology needs of the U.S. Navy in developing highly capable and affordable sea systems. To do so, the study will evaluate: a) Current practice of naval engineering and whether it is consistent with the scope of technical areas that comprise the NNR-NE program. The evaluation will consider cybersecurity of connected vessels and future unmanned naval systems in addition to traditional sea platforms; ship design tools; structural systems; hydromechanics and hull design; propulsors, platform power, and energy; and automation, control, and system integration. b) Health, currency, and technical adequacy of the key S&T disciplines that support these core technical areas as well as others identified by the review of current naval engineering practice. c) Health of the undergraduate and graduate education systems for developing future naval engineering professionals. d) State of facilities and equipment to maintain naval engineering and the levels and trends in resources being devoted to the NNR-NE program relative to its mission. In assessing the health of the key science and technology disciplines and the systems for developing naval engineering professionals, the study will identify potential deficiencies in educational and research programs. The study committee will also examine trends in ONR’s devotion of resources to the program. As appropriate, the study will provide recommendations on opportunities to enhance naval engineering innovation, research, and undergraduate and graduate educational capabilities in basic and applied research.

PREPUBLICATION COPY—Uncorrected Proofs 15 NE workforce and education pipeline as naval engineering becomes even more multi- and interdisciplinary, and on S&T equipment and facilities as modeling and simulation capabilities become more advanced. FIGURE 1-1 Position of the NNR-NE in the Department of Navy and Office of Naval Research. Furthermore, the ONR sponsors expressed a desire for succinct, actionable advice to inform the changes that will be needed in the NNR-NE to realize its full potential.7 In doing so, they emphasized the importance of ensuring the NNR-NE aligns with priorities established in the Naval R&D Framework, which demands technology-focused, integrated research portfolios that account for the future force attributes necessary for the Navy and Marine Corps. The Naval R&D Framework defines six integrated research portfolios, one of which is “Mission Capable, Persistent and Survivable Naval Platforms.” This portfolio consists of naval engineering and seven other “enduring research responsibilities,” and it emphasizes the advancement of naval platforms, not only ships, commensurate with the Navy’s interest in a distributed maritime operational concept. These new mission realities and operational paradigms were characterized as providing a charter for change to the NNRs. Informed by its discussions with the study sponsors and its review of the Naval R&D Framework, the committee came to appreciate the fluidity of the landscape in which the NNR- NE now resides. In applying the Naval R&D Framework to the Naval Research Enterprise, the Chief of Naval Research emphasized that the enterprise will be expected to accept more risk, become more agile and flexible, and become more priority driven based on core naval functions and domains.8 The NNR-NE and the other NNRs are expected to be responsive to the rapidly 7 “National Naval Responsibility: Naval Engineering—National Academy of Sciences Study.” Briefing by Thomas Fu, Director, Advanced Naval Platforms Division, April 30, 2018. 8 See https://www.onr.navy.mil/our-research/naval-research-framework.

PREPUBLICATION COPY—Uncorrected Proofs 16 evolving physical, operational, and technology environments of future naval platforms. Accordingly, the study sponsors expressed an interest in having a report with a strategic focus and that contains high-level advice that will remain viable as the environment in which the NNRs function evolves, as opposed to a review of the finer details of the existing program and its processes and management. STUDY APPROACH In considering how best to fulfill the study’s Statement of Task, the committee gave careful consideration to the sponsor’s expressed desire for an actionable, strategic-level report that recognizes the changing operational demands of the Navy, the dynamic technological landscape, and the changing composition and requirements of naval platforms. In accordance, the committee adopted a fairly broad and open working definition of naval engineering as “the field of study, expertise, and practice that concerns the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of all naval platforms, which includes traditional Navy ships/vessels as well as other platforms such as an operating unit of networked manned or unmanned systems.” In the committee’s view, such a broad-based definition of naval platforms is consistent with the interest of the Navy in implementing the operational concept of distributed maritime operations, which will create demands for platforms having increased modularity, reconfigurability, and connectivity.9 After reviewing the 2011 report, it became evident to the committee that the context for today’s NNR-NE is very different from the context of the program’s inception and that expectations for the program continue to evolve in response to new Navy demands and interests, as expressed in the Naval R&D Framework. The committee also recognized that a data-based review of the program that focused on NNR-NE’s past accomplishments and performance, similar to that requested for the 2011 study, would be unresponsive to the interests of ONR leadership in addressing prospective needs. As a practical matter too, such a review would not have been possible in light of subsequent shifts in Navy priorities that have led to changes in ONR’s portfolio structure and performance measurement data. The committee thus determined that an update of the 2011 review was neither practical nor preferred. Instead, it approached the study with the intention of providing top-level, strategic guidance to ONR by seeking answers to the kinds of questions contained in Box 1-3, which concern the NNR-NE’s strategic alignment to Navy direction, research project value, and long-term health of the naval engineering enterprise. BOX 1-3 Questions Posed During the Study’s NNR-NE Review Strategic Alignment to Navy Direction:  S&T Portfolio Relevance: Given an evolving threat environment and transformative U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) strategy, are these the most important areas of research to enable the Next Navy, and the Navy-after-Next?  9 Congressional Research Service. 2019. Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans: Background and Issues for Congress, August 26. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/weapons/RL32665.pdf

PREPUBLICATION COPY—Uncorrected Proofs 17  Portfolio Management: What methods and metrics may be used to strategically evaluate the full naval engineering (NE) portfolio in support of Navy strategy and in conjunction with the broader Department of the Navy enterprise? Research Project Value:  Research Quality: Is the current research well focused on future Navy needs?  Research Investment Optimization: Given finite resources, where and how should the Office of Naval Research (ONR) build on the work of other research and development efforts, government agencies, or commercial entities? Long Term Health of the NE Enterprise:  Naval Engineering Talent: Is there adequate workforce depth and breadth to address the NE portfolio today and in the future? What is the role of NE versus ONR or DOD at large in inspiring the NE talent pool? Will the Department of the Navy enterprise attract the top talent it needs?  Proof of Concept: What is the health of the nation’s test infrastructure to validate or inspire new discoveries? Are there any concerning trends or promising new approaches related to technology evaluation?  Research Viability: What must be done to nurture/protect the process of scientific discovery while ensuring viable technology is efficiently fielded for operational use? The committee sought answers to these and other questions in meetings with ONR officials and program leaders who briefed the committee on the NRR-NE program and by inviting speakers from industry, academia, the Navy, and elsewhere in DOD who provided their views on naval engineering S&T, workforce, and infrastructure needs and opportunities for the NNR to help meet them. These invited speakers (listed in Appendix A) provided the committee with a range of information and insight on warfighter, industry, technologists, and educator perspectives as they pertain to the NNR-NE’s technical (S&T) research, workforce, and infrastructure. To retain a strategic focus, the committee also developed an evaluation framework for reviewing each of the three main elements, or pillars, of the NRR-NE. These three pillars and the evaluation framework became central to the committee’s approach in conducting the study and advising ONR in a strategic manner. The pillars and evaluation framework are explained in the next chapter and are used as the basis for analysis in the remainder of the report, which is structured to consider one pillar at a time. REPORT ORGANIZATION The committee believes the report, organized around this framework, is responsive to the Statement of Task. The logic and purpose of the framework are discussed in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 addresses the first two items (“a” and “b”) of the task statement, which call for an examination of the scope of the NNR-NE’s core S&T areas. Chapter 3 points to the importance of NNR-NE extending its reach outside the traditional bounds of naval engineering by leveraging and monitoring S&T developments in other fields. The chapter also gives a number of examples of candidate S&T areas that can be leveraged and monitored. While the committee expects ONR to

PREPUBLICATION COPY—Uncorrected Proofs 18 find value in these examples, it believes the “lead, leverage, and monitor” framework will prove most valuable to ONR over the longer term, as it rationalizes its future research portfolio choices critical to this first pillar of the NNR-NE program. Chapter 4 addresses item “c” of the task statement, which the committee refers to as the education and workforce pillar. Consideration is given in this chapter to NNR-NE’s accomplishments in sponsoring undergraduate and graduate NE students and inspiring STEM interest among younger students through educational and experiential learning programs. The chapter also discusses some of the impediments to attracting students to the NE field, including the need for security clearances. Chapter 4 concludes by examining opportunities for NNR-NE to strengthen this pillar, such as by leveraging the S&T programs that are administered elsewhere in ONR, the Navy, and DOD. Item “d” of the task statement is examined in Chapter 5, which considers the NE experimental infrastructure “pillar.” Much of the discussion in this chapter is devoted to issues pertaining to the physical infrastructure, and particularly the challenges that NE researchers face in covering cost of using and gaining access to the larger, government-run test facilities. Chapter 5 also considers emerging developments such as the increasing role of computational capabilities and how their use may create demands for investment in new experimental infrastructure. The report does not give a lot of attention to characterizing the current “health” of the NE enterprise and its three pillars, as requested in the task statement. Because characterizing the health of a large enterprise can be a complex and subjective matter, any such characterizations would have required access to a robust and diverse set of metrics and data, which the committee could not find. At various places throughout the report, however, examples are given of the kinds data that would be helpful to assessing the health of the NE enterprise and the impact of the NNR-NE and its three pillars. These examples are offered in recognition that ONR has recently established a Data and Analytics Lab led by a Chief Analytics Officer, whose mission includes supporting the strategic decision making of the NNRs through in-depth analysis of their programs and portfolios. In Chapter 6, the report concludes with advice aimed at ensuring the NNR-NE achieves enduring success. The importance of strengthening data, including leading indicator and impact metrics, is emphasized as part of a more comprehensive effort to shape program priorities and track their effects that the includes the use of regular external reviews.

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The U.S. Navy has many unique naval engineering needs that demand a highly capable and robust U.S. naval engineering enterprise. In seeking an independent review of the unclassified elements of its National Naval Responsibilities—Naval Engineering (NNR-NE) program, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) asked for recommendations on ways to ensure the program meets the many naval engineering research, education, and workforce needs that will be critical to the Future Navy.

Toward New Naval Platforms: A Strategic View of the Future of Naval Engineering recommends a number of strategies, including advice that ONR adopt a “lead, leverage, and monitor” framework for the programming, prioritization, and integration of its investments within and across the NNR-NE’s three “pillars” of science and technology (S&T), education and workforce development, and experimental infrastructure.

The report points out that as the technological landscape critical to naval engineering continues to expand at a rapid pace, NNR-NE must make strategic choices about when it should invest directly in research that meets naval-unique S&T needs, and when it should leverage technological advances from other domains.

Likewise, the report points to the importance of the NNR-NE making direct investments to inspire STEM interest among K-12 students and attract undergraduate and graduate students to the field of naval engineering but also to leverage the many STEM programs found elsewhere in the Navy and Department of Defense.

The report stresses the importance of engaging individuals from under-represented groups to expand the naval engineering talent pool and to find creative ways to expedite the recruitment of workers to Navy-critical professions by providing naval engineering graduates with early work opportunities while awaiting security clearances.

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