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By Morgan Tabor, NSWCDD Corporate Communications
In a demonstration of cutting-edge technology expertise, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) convened another innovation challenge at the University of Mary Washington Dahlgren Campus Nov. 1-3.
The Adaptable Interface-Innovation Challenge focused on spearheading advancements in the rapid integration of systems on Navy ships, setting a course for future maritime warfare. This innovation challenge sought out innovative solutions to address the pressing need for a highly adaptable interface approach, essential for supporting the dynamic system of systems environment onboard ships.
These combat systems interact with a diverse array of operating systems, primarily encompassing sensors and effectors, along with communications, navigation and timing systems.
The challenge stemmed from the diversity of these systems, originating from various manufacturers, each with its unique interface definition. Additionally, the rapid emergence of new systems exceeded the capability for their integration with combat systems and thorough testing.
“This innovation challenge is a whole new level in terms of product delivery prototypes and new ideas from an adaptive interface standpoint in our combat systems,” said NSWCDD Technical Director Dale Sisson Jr., SES. “We are expanding our vendor base, our available partners and rallying them around our cause.”
While this challenge had a specific focus on radar systems, it was expected that the adaptable interface approach developed could be applied to rapidly integrate other combat systems, forming a broader solution for the Navy's evolving needs.
“I think it's a great opportunity for us to collaborate with these companies and think outside the box said Michael Clark, NSWCDD Potomac Tech Bridge Director. “
Thirteen teams from diverse backgrounds and expertise converged in a bid to claim the $250,000 prize. The prize money was provided by NavalX, making it possible for NSWCDD’s Technology Office and the Potomac Tech Bridge to host the challenge and enable the participating companies to innovate and develop solutions to a tough naval problem. This challenge was no walk in the park; it unfolded in three phases that tested the teams' tenacity and persistence.
"The support and funding from NavalX made this challenge a reality and the problem set provided by Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems offered a great platform to spur innovation and problem-solving" explained Clark. "The Potomac Tech Bridge was excited about this challenge and similar opportunities to come that will help grow our network of innovative thinkers and forward-leaning companies."
Phase One – known as the "white paper" – served as the initial test where each team had to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities in the realm of rapidly transforming interfaces within a system of systems environment. In this stage, the teams showcased not only their technical dexterity but also unveiled their strategic skills, outlining the well-thought-out approach that would carry them through the upcoming phases of the competition.
In Phase Two, teams faced the task of evaluating their capabilities in developing an interface and adaptive layers capable of seamlessly bridging multiple navigation radar interfaces with combat system interfaces. With the culmination of Phase Two’s intensive work, the competitors transitioned into the presentation phase, where they presented their meticulously crafted results and findings.
NSWCDD presented a new interface specification to challenge participants' determination during the third phase. This interface was geared towards a different radar capability that mirrored the data parameters from the government-supplied data of Phase Two.
“This is hopefully the beginning of a journey, and not a completion of just a few days, that we take this technology and continue to work on it,” said NSWCDD Senior Scientific Technical Manager for Combat System Architecture Ted Jung. “We hope to transition and provide capabilities for Sailors and Marines that we support.”
The competition's intensity surged as the clock ticked down, granting the teams no more than 24 hours to craft an application adept at translating data streams from the new radar source while seamlessly integrating them with the previously provided radar interfaces.
The challenge's final stage brought forth a peak of innovation, adaptability and precision that would help define the future of maritime warfare solutions. With an outstanding performance, the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) Federal took the first place spot in the competition and left with the $250,000 prize in hand.
ASRC’s team consisted of three individuals: John Frankel, Lu Verissimo and Orest Ukrainsky who traveled from New Jersey to participate. “Our solution was made to be flexible. We came up with the method of using standard software and coded files to look at the data, figure out where each one was from an IDS standpoint and parse it out,” said Frankel. “This challenge was a fun rollercoaster and a great way to connect and network with other competitors and compare the different approaches to the problem.”
This challenge proved the advantages of expediting the discovery of solutions to complex problems and demonstrated that it is possible to shorten the timeframe, showcasing the abilities to reverse engineer in less than 24 hours, with a high degree of fidelity data. It challenged the preconception that we need a long period of time to find the solution for the warfighter.
“This Innovation Challenge is all about collaboration and how we get those capabilities out to our warfighters,” said NSWCDD Commanding Officer Capt. Philip Mlynarski. “We want to get our Sailors home safe and get them back to their families, so the coordination and cooperation with each of you and your companies is extremely important.”