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NEWS | Aug. 17, 2022

NSWC Crane hosts 2022 Microelectronics Integrity Meeting to strengthen future access to trusted systems

By Sarah K. Miller, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) hosted the 2022 Microelectronics Integrity Meeting (MIM) in Indianapolis, Indiana on August 9-10. More than 450 participants from government, military, industry, and academia attended the forum themed “Trust: Future Access and Capabilities.”

This annual event features keynote speaker presentations and panel discussions on topics such as rapid prototyping of assured microelectronics, engaging the external ecosystem, Hardware Assurance (HwA), next steps for transitioning newer technologies, and identifying and addressing production challenges.

Brian Stuffle (center) receives appreciation plaque from Mark Thomas (left) and Dr. Kyle Werner (right)Brian Stuffle, the Global Deterrence and Defense Department Chief Strategist at NSWC Crane, is the co-lead in organizing the MIM. This is the seventh event, and Stuffle has been involved in organizing the MIM since the inaugural meeting. He says he is excited about the 2022 MIM.

“We are thrilled to have a full-sized event this year,” says Stuffle. “The MIM has grown since the beginning in size as well as interest in critical topics of radiation hardened microelectronics and supply chain integrity. The MIM is not just about discussing the challenges associated with Trusted Microelectronics. It has evolved into a forum where potential solutions are discussed to solve the problems that the nation faces with access to critical technologies and supply chain integrity.”

Trusted and Assured Microelectronics (T&AM) provide the foundation for modern computing, communications, and infrastructure. Increasingly, production of semiconductor technology has shifted- to international companies—which creates concern for the DoD. The Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) for Research and Engineering T&AM program addresses these concerns.

Stuffle says recent events have brought the significance of trusted microelectronics to the forefront of many people’s minds—including the impact outside the DoD.

“If you think about the pandemic and recent supply chain issues with microelectronics—especially how that has affected the automobile industry and how long people have to wait to get hands on electronics in cars,” says Stuffle. “The semiconductor industry is highly globalized with key parts of the supply chain dominated by overseas players. Continued outsourcing threatens not only assured access, but also the Nation’s place of relevance in microelectronics manufacturing. The United States is currently vulnerable to microelectronics supply chain disruptions, whether from a pandemic, sanctions, or conflicts. The Nation needs a comprehensive national strategy for microelectronics to ensure our security and economic prosperity, and the MIM provides a forum for microelectronics experts to address these threats and achieve a national strategy in Trusted Microelectronics. This meeting will coincide with NSWC Crane's leadership role for the Navy and DoD in the T&AM Program for the OSD, which is a program designed to improve DoD microelectronics evaluation capabilities and develop commercial standards to make trusted parts a competitive advantage and will ultimately demonstrate and transition an alternative approach to the Trusted Foundry model.”  

Stuffle says the event brings together experts across the nation for a common purpose. Dr. Kyle Werner, NSWC Crane Deputy Technical Director, speaks

“The event supports the Navy and DoD—as well as industry and academia partners—to work in cooperation to improve the nation’s strategic nuclear deterrent high reliability systems by finding collaborative areas to work in trusted microelectronics,” says Stuffle. “We will discuss and explain the collaborative efforts with the Navy, Air Force, and Missile Defense Agency in reducing the overall cost and risk of maintaining our strategic deterrent and to showcase the value of the work. There are potential efficiencies and common work in research, development, and production, particularly as we look at areas in industry where skills sustainment is of significant importance. Now is also the time to look at resource and component commonality, where applicable. The focus of the MIM is ensuring future access and capabilities in trusted microelectronics; we want to know what are we doing to develop a national strategy in trusted microelectronics in our technology as well as the supply chain to field it reliably and timely.”

Dr. Julie Shaff, the Technology Transfer (T2) Agreements Administrator and the NavalX Midwest Tech Bridge Deputy Director at NSWC Crane, was on a panel discussion featuring the external ecosystem and defense innovation enablers. She says engaging the ecosystem—which is made up of researchers, students, academic institutions, military, entrepreneurs, industry, and more—ultimately advances capability for the warfighter.

Dr. Julie Shaff (left) moderates a panel with Mark Thomas (right)“Engaging the external ecosystem enables NSWC Crane to further fulfill its mission and give the Warfighter a competitive advantage,” says Dr. Shaff. “We incorporate defense innovation enablers such as T2 to spin in and spin out technology. T2 has several mechanisms we incorporate with our ecosystem partners that allow us share lab space, resources, expertise, and more to further advance technology in the DoD.”

Stuffle says the event is designed to be interactive to encourage the exchange of ideas with experts in this field.

“Creating this forum is important because our ability to identify threats and potential solutions is key to future success,” says Stuffle. “This forum, one of the premiere microelectronics events, provides a unique opportunity to talk about these challenges, our different ideas to tackle them, and lessons learned to make sure there are viable solutions and a national strategy for trusted microelectronics. The event has built-in opportunities for engagement so the experts in attendance can discuss these topics. A key part of the MIM is that it is interactive. The development of these communities of interest and collaboration would be difficult, if not impossible, without the ability to share information in this meeting format in a personal and interactive manner.”

Keynote speakers include Anthony Hawkins, the Structures, Controls and Flight Unit Head at Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) and Dr. Bill McNavage, the Program Examiner for the Defense Investments Branch, of the Office of Management and Budget. Another key speaker was David Roberts, the Executive Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).

Dr. McNavage says the recently passed Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act can be leveraged alongside previous investments and initiatives.Dr. Bill McNavage speaks at the 2022 MIM

“The Department of Defense has broad and deep equities in semiconductor manufacturing, research and development, and workforce ecosystems.” says Dr. McNavage. “As we move forward in the implementation of the recently passed CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, it is important to not lose sight of how much the Department has already accomplished with their semiconductor investments. There is an opportunity to treat and employ CHIPS funding as a force multiplier to already planned - or to be realized - agency investments. Getting a CHIPS appropriation was the easy part. Now figuring out how to implement, partner, integrate, and interface, across all stakeholders, is really the exciting challenge and opportunity ahead.”

Many discussion themes for the 2022 MIM align with the OSD for Research and Engineering T&AM program: access to state of the art (SOTA) commercial technology, data-driven quantifiable assurance, the DoD’s unique needs, and creating a resilient and robust pipeline. Another important topic for the MIM is nuclear modernization.

Stuffle says the MIM addresses these challenges and brings the national microelectronics community together to meet future challenges.

2022 MIM in Indianapolis“NSWC Crane is providing national leadership in these crucial areas,” says Stuffle. “In our panels we are looking forward to new technology development. We will also discuss what Crane is doing to help the nation meet demand for trusted and assured microelectronics testing for the strategic application,” says Stuffle. “In the near future, the nation’s nuclear deterrence program and converging modernization will require infrastructure for testing—we’ll need strategic radiation-hardened electronics.”

Stuffle explains how current discussions at the MIM help meet future challenges.

“The Nation needs to ensure that it has access to critical radiation-hardened and trusted microelectronics technologies to field the DoD’s strategic system platforms,” says Stuffle. “Without these technologies, the Nation’s Nuclear Deterrent capability is at risk. The Navy and the DoD also need to understand challenges associated with potential microelectronics supply chain threats and the infiltration of the supply chain with counterfeit devices. The MIM provides a unique forum for government and industry experts in microelectronics to discuss key challenges associated with trusted microelectronics to share ideas and lessons learned; it ensures that the DoD has viable solutions to current and future supply chain and trust threats.”

About NSWC Crane | NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

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