For Immediate Release: December 28, 2020
By Jason Payne, TechSolutions Director, ONR Global
In the world of science and technology (S&T), getting a new product to warfighters in less than five years is nearly unheard of—unless you are talking about the TechSolutions program, which puts newly developed prototypes into warfighters’ hands in 12 months or less. The TechSolutions program routinely takes requests from Marines and Sailors from around the globe for technology solutions to problems affecting mission effectiveness. It then turns those requests into working prototypes that are tested and turned over to the original requester and their command for further use and improvement.
Two examples of projects that TechSolutions has recently funded in support of the Navy and Marine Corps’ worldwide mission include:
Topside Drone Inspection – This project stemmed from a request from a Navy lieutenant who pointed out how the Navy spends enormous amounts of money and maintenance man-hours on simple visual inspections looking for corrosion and other defects on ships. He explained how the development of an autonomous platform that could detect material defects, corrosion, warping and other conditions requiring maintenance could potentially save the Navy millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours. Based on the lieutenant’s request, ONR Global TechSolutions funded a Navy warfare center to develop a prototype 3D scanning system, mounted on a small UAV platform, to autonomously scan the entire exterior of a Navy ship for any type of defect. The project took 12 months and generated interest at DASN (Sustainment) for continued development with government and industry partners for fielding.
Energy Training Exercise (ETX) Game – TechSolutions is funding a project that started as a request from three Marine Corps captains who were attending the Expeditionary Warfare School in Quantico, Virginia. The project translates Marine Corps fuel logistics/energy training needs into a game design that aligns with learning objectives to target and fill learning gaps with respect to operational energy. This interactive, web-based game educates planners for operational units by increasing their exposure to, and proficiency in, the operations and logistics relationships related to energy management. The Energy Training Game came to the attention of TechSolutions when the program received an invitation to attend and participate in the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ Logistics Innovation Challenge in 2019.The ETX game was one of more than 75 Challenge entries submitted by Marines of all ranks. There were many outstanding entries, but the ETX Game emerged as the overall winner, and TechSolutions was happy to step in and award funding to developers to create the game. Since the project began, the developer has continually reached out to the three Marine Corps captains to gain operational insight and request feedback on the game’s design. The final delivery and demonstration of the ETX game was in September of 2020. This project has drawn the attention of Marine Corps operational logistics planners, who are working with the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Energy Office to create an “Operational” version of this application. The Office of the Secretary of Defense has also expressed interest.
Since 2002, the TechSolutions program has funded hundreds of requests across the spectrum of functional areas within the Marine Corps and Navy, from Sailors and Marines located both at home and abroad. One interesting aspect of the TechSolutions S&T program is it allows any Marine or Sailor, from E-1 to flag-level officers, to submit requests. There’s just a small number of requirements that need to be met in order for a submission/request to be considered. They include:
- The solution needs to be technology not yet developed. TechSolutions doesn’t buy technology off the shelf, or build an updated version of something that already exists. Instead, TechSolutions reaches out to world-class scientists and engineers within the Naval Research and Development Establishment and asks them to propose solutions to warfighter requests by leveraging state-of-the-art science and technology.
- The technology required to respond to the request needs to be mature enough that a solution/prototype can be developed in 12 months or less,
- The solution needs to fit within our budget (projects average $750,000).
TechSolutions does not require verification of an official “Warfighting Requirement” in order to fund a Marine or Sailor’s request. Instead, TechSolutions communicates directly with the Marine or Sailor who made the request to further define exactly what the solution needs to do, or what it needs to look like. Additionally, it is helpful to the success of the project if the requesting Marine or Sailor participates in the development of the solution. They are asked to participate via telephone, or in person, in selecting the winning proposal, attending the kickoff meeting and in design reviews with the performer. Their assistance also is requested to coordinate end-user feedback sessions and the final prototype demonstration.
If you have an idea on how a new technical capability will increase your unit’s mission effectiveness, and you want to see a solution developed and delivered within a year, reach out to TechSolutions. TechSolutions is capable of providing solutions to technical problems, no matter what functional area you may work in.
To submit your idea or learn more about TechSolutions-funded projects, visit https://www.onr.navy.mil/techsolutions and register for an account. Once you’re confirmed as registered, access the TechSolutions portal and click the “Request a Solution” button, and you will be asked to answer three simple questions:
- What is your observation and/or problem?
- What does the solution need to do?
- Do you have any amplifying information or personal ideas to solve the problem?
It really is as simple as that to direct funding towards the development of your idea!
If you have questions, or you would like to talk to TechSolutions, you can contact us:
Phone: (703) 696-0616