Over the last month, representatives from the Naval Postgraduate School and the Naval Postgraduate School Foundation visited world-class industry and academic facilities throughout the Southern and Central California region and the Washington-Metro area. The visits, which were funded and facilitated by the NPS Foundation, presented an opportunity for NPS faculty and staff to be immersed in innovative, best-in-class environments and to imagine what is in the art of the possible for NPS.
“The strategic and tactical challenges of the future will require the continuous education of the joint forces to maintain a competitive advantage over our current and future adversaries,” said Dr. Scott Gartner, Naval Postgraduate School Provost. “The ability for our faculty and staff to visit world-class innovative facilities represents an important step in imagining the possibilities for the Naval Postgraduate School and then incorporating those best practices into our vision to be the world’s leading and most innovative institution for defense higher education and research.”
The sites in California included Silicon Valley’s Microsoft Innovation Campus and Apple’s Apple Park and Southern California’s Anduril Industries, Applied Minds Inc, and the University of California at Irvine Beall Applied Innovation center. The visits to the Washington-Metro area included the Marine Corps Wargaming and Analysis Center, Hopper Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, the Cyber Bytes Foundation Quantico Cyber Hub, National Intelligence University, Raytheon Technologies, and Lockheed Martin’s Global Vision Center. NPS and NPS Foundation representatives observed both the physical qualities of the facilities and their approaches to innovation. They also explored ways to strengthen current and develop new partnerships with private industry and academia that will enhance the national security ecosystem.
Following each of these visits, NPS representatives discussed their observations with fellow NPS faculty and staff to energize the campus and explore how to incorporate best practices for innovative and collaborative environments into the vision for NPS. Identifying the critical common elements is key to creating and sustaining an enterprise culture that encourages and rewards education and innovation. Benchmarking industry best practices enables NPS to develop, foster and lead a culture of innovation within the Department of Defense.
“Our students and faculty need a 21st century campus that will enable them to solve operational challenges and bring innovation into adoption through interdisciplinary and applied research and collaboration with expert faculty and industry partners,” said Dr. Ralucca Gera, Professor of Applied Mathematics at NPS and project lead for the Campus of the Future initiative. “If we implement best practices from innovative facilities and educational institutions from across the nation, we can better serve as that epicenter for the national security ecosystem and DOD-Industry partnerships.”
Universities and colleges across the country are modernizing their campuses with state-of-the-art facilities and innovation centers. By visiting innovation spaces at universities like UC Irvine, Johns Hopkins and Virginia Tech, the NPS and NPS Foundation representatives experienced campuses specifically built to be epicenters of innovation, education and collaboration. These visits were beneficial in understanding lessons learned and best practices in defining requirements, designing research and education spaces, and implementing innovative facilities and technological capabilities into education and research institutions.
Takeaways from industry facilities include the use of dynamic, modular spaces and labs to encourage collaboration and hands-on problem solving, as well as using modern gathering spaces to showcase research and expertise through state-of-the-art technologies and demonstrations. These features are important to creating an interdisciplinary and project-oriented campus at NPS. A current example is the Campus of the Future project, one of four research initiatives under the NPS-Microsoft Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). The initiative includes researching how emerging technologies, digital classrooms and modular collaboration spaces can extend the NPS campus beyond its physical walls.
“Our goal in facilitating these visits for Naval Postgraduate School representatives is to support NPS’ vision to accelerate concepts to capability and leverage the Department of Navy’s research and development investments,” said Todd Lyons, NPS Foundation Vice President. “The Naval Postgraduate School is developing the next generation of leaders who are going to have to work together to confront an increasingly complex and uncertain future. The DOD must harness and leverage the innovation ecosystem to stay ahead of our competitors and solve the most important national security challenges.”