Panel: Global Partnerships Key to Advancing Science and Technology Research

By Yasmin Tadjdeh

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Collaboration between the United States and its partner nations will be key to developing emerging technologies, said a panel of naval science and technology officials from around the globe May 16.

In order to crack the tough technological nuts of the future, nations will have to work together and share their knowledge, panelists said at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Conference. 

“When you think about science and technology today and into the future it’s interesting to look across that global spectrum of partnerships,” said Rear Adm. Mathias Winter, chief of the U.S. Office of

Naval Research. In “science and technology what you really find is that there are more commonality than differences.”

Advances in military science and technology can be multiplied many times over when a country works on bilateral and multilateral projects, he said. The panel included representatives from Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Dale Reding, director general of science and technology for air force and navy programs at the Department of National Defence of Canada, said the country works with industry, academia and foreign partners on many of its tech efforts.

“We’re a small country. We cannot do it all by ourselves. So what we do is we focus on those things that we are best at,” he said. “It’s critical that we engage with those other partners so we can together leverage our collaborative understanding to solve what is in many cases common problems.”

Technology is more than just shiny pieces of metal bolted onto ships, he said. “It is about the advice that is given based on operational research. It is the integration of looking at how systems come together to do something different. It is the innovation that comes out of that, the discovery piece, and then just as critically … [it] is the ability to look at the future and help our naval colleagues understand what the implications of the technology are.”

Trust is essential when it comes to collaboration, he said. Researchers have to believe that a partner country's counterparts are competent, that they respect the partnership, and that they can deliver on time.

“It’s not about being polite. It’s about working together to solve problems,” he said. “That sometimes means that you have to be very up front and say, ‘No, that issue is not going to work.’”
Canada is currently in the middle of the largest recapitalization of its naval fleet since World War II, Reding said. That presents the country with significant opportunities and challenges at the same time.

There are also strategic and operational issues, he noted. One example is in Canada’s Arctic. It is evolving environment and a number of actors around the globe are interested in the region, he said.

The country plans to make greater military investments to protect the area.

Partnerships in science and technology are also important to the United Kingdom, said Nicholas Joad, program director for the country’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory.

“Collaboration is at the core of what we want to do,” he said. “We have very many long standing relationships that we should exploit and exploit more fully because I’m beginning to recognize that sometimes building that trust actually does take quite a long time.”

The U.K. is looking for new partners to work with, he added. One area of research that the country is working on is in autonomy, Joad said. “It should be viewed from our perspective as getting the most out of your people,” he said.

It is also making investments in cyber, directed energy weapons and in pervasive situational awareness, he added.

Topics: International, Science and Engineering Technology

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