The Naval Postgraduate School Foundation held a ceremony Sept. 6 symbolizing the transfer of Athena, a collaborative research tool, to the Naval Postgraduate School.
Athena empowers researchers, sponsors, and leaders across the Naval Education Enterprise to access and query information currently stored in numerous separate databases by use of keywords, topics of interest, service priorities and other filters. The application is built on Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Teams to assure security, enhance scalability, and deliver content across all devices.
For over a year, the NPS Foundation has been working with a team of developers to build a scalable platform that can empower the national security innovation ecosystem. The NPS Foundation made a significant financial investment and contributed thousands of volunteer hours on the design and development of Athena in fiscal year 2022 to support the expansion of innovation at the Naval Postgraduate School and enhance internal and external collaboration. The ceremony signified a key milestone for the NPS Foundation and NPS with the gifting of the beta version of Athena.
Part of the Campus of the Future initiative, Athena is one of the first efforts to be delivered and have a strategic impact under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between NPS and Microsoft.
“Athena increases the impact of the Naval Postgraduate School on the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense by creating a living hub for research at NPS and beyond, making it accessible to the entire community of students and faculty, as well as potential partners, sponsors and collaborators across the DOD,” said Karen Hargrove, NPS Foundation Trustee and project lead for Athena’s development. “The national security challenges we face require close collaboration across the Joint Force for us to spur innovation and achieve a competitive advantage."
Athena will enable students, faculty, researchers and sponsors at NPS and across the DOD to discover, connect and collaborate to deliver results at the speed of relevance. Leaders at every level can see who is doing the work in their area of interest, connect with the right people, and create collaboration across boundaries of organization and academic discipline.
“The DOD must accelerate the adoption of innovative solutions and develop top talent to compete effectively in the current operational environment,” said NPS President, retired Vice Adm. Ann E. Rondeau. “We recognize the world around us is changing, and Athena is an exemplar of how we are working very hard to transform not only NPS, but how NPS can be more transformative for the Department of the Navy as an innovation hub. This work is about empowering our warrior-scholar students to make a difference by developing real solutions to operational problems and the intellectual decision advantage we need to defend our nation and this great democracy.”
Many students come to NPS with years of operational experience and multiple deployments behind them. More than 1,000 applied research theses and capstone projects are delivered every year with the aim of solving real challenges for the fleet and force. Student and faculty work results in 10 to 20 patent-eligible technologies every year, such as novel technologies to store excess renewable energy. Athena will allow incoming students to select thesis topics that compound on ongoing and completed research, accelerating developments that can result in real actionable solutions for the Department of Defense.
The Information Technology and Communications Services (ITACS) department is currently working with the NPS Foundation to complete the review and deployment of Athena on the NPS tenant, while Microsoft is supporting the Azure cloud architecture.
The NPS Foundation is supporting beta testing for a limited number of users to test current features and plan for future features in the application. The NPS Foundation is committed to supporting the development of future versions of Athena to enable increased functionality when launched to the larger NPS community, and eventually, other communities throughout the Joint Force.
To learn more about Athena and request access to the beta version on the NPS Foundation tenant, sign up here.