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Assistant Secretary of Defense Discusses Future of Technology at Naval Academy

Posted on: November 08, 2012 09:00 EST by Jessica Clark

From Naval Academy Public Affairs

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Zachary J. Lemnios spoke to civilian and military students about the future of technology Nov. 6 during the Naval Academy Science and Engineering Conference.

Lemnios focused his discussion on the scope of the research and development process, how investments years ago in technology helped develop the products and equipment we use today.

Much of the technology we use daily today came out of government investments in research and development many years ago, Lemnios said.

“The technology that we all enjoy today … what actually goes into that is years of investment and billions of dollars in research and development,” he said. “It happened because there were good engineers who understood materials science, electrical engineering, and systems engineering.”

Today, the government continues to invest in advanced materials, the materials that today’s engineering students will be working with in the future, he said.

The systems current students will be working with 5 or 10 years from now won’t be merely incremental improvements on what we use now - like smartphones and tablets - but entirely new systems, he said.

He also stressed that the U.S. isn’t the only country developing these advanced technologies.

“Every student here, military or not, is going to be competing with a counterpart in some other part of the world,” either on a commercial or military level, he said. Because of this, he stressed the important of moving quickly from researching a concept to developing an operational tool. Engineers in the future will be able to do this much more quickly because new systems don’t require new hardware, only new software which is less costly and quicker to develop.

“Really bright students and engineers can turn what we have now into something quite different. You will have remarkable resources at your disposal,” he said.

The annual Naval Academy Science and Engineering Conference brings policy makers and science advisors together with university faculty and students to meet and discuss significant science and engineering issues and challenges. Other speakers included Director of the National Science Foundation Subra Suresh and Bank of America Chairman Charles Holliday Jr. This year’s conference focused on renewable energy and alternative fuels, cyber space and security, and water and sustainability.

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