Today’s soldiers face a battlefield unlike any before them. With the rapid advancement of high performance technology, warfighters can quickly be left vulnerable if they lack the latest capabilities. The Army Research Laboratory West’s (ARL-West) latest partnership with UC Riverside’s Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE), the ARL Open Campus initiative (OCI), helps arm soldiers with the most advanced technology while giving students an opportunity to engage in meaningful, applied research.
The collaborative initiative co-locates Army research development personnel at top research universities, gaining access to subject matter experts and engineering solutions for the future warfighter to make a world-wide impact. The partnership builds upon a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) and Joint Work Statement (JWS) between ARL and BCOE focused on novel material and device discovery and characterization. Distinguished professors Alexander Balandin and Ashok Mulchandani with professor Roger Lake are primary collaborators in the partnership, which continues to result in internship opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students. Through CRADA, a written agreement between one or more federal laboratories and one or more non-federal parties under the agreement provides personnel, facilities, equipment or other resources to the university.
When the challenges for the future soldier come to the university, faculty, students, and researchers get hands-on action into engineering solutions for warfighters while bringing new, innovative perspectives. In addition to benefiting the army, the partnership has an impact on student researchers who are involved in the collaboration, giving students access to Army service personnel and taking principles learned in the classrooms and applying them to real-world scenarios.
Working closely with ARL-West mentors, students are exposed to unique army-related challenges that prepare them for a future in defense-related research and technical challenges. ARL-West’s footprint in UCR provides a mechanism for informal interactions between ARL research and BCOE faculty members. The partnership provides a testbed for mindsets and performance as an essential experimental laboratory for researchers. The students can take strategies learned through the collaboration and apply them to any domain. ARL-West is a part of a hub-spoke approach to increasing the science and technology ecosystem the Army needs to maintain its technological edge in the future that will ensure continued dominance and overmatch for the armed forces in a complex and ever-evolving world. Partnerships like this one, help identify how university resources, such as brilliant young scientists and their technologies can help solve real-life problems
“This partnership pairs the brightest minds in academia with our military strategists to bring to life our next-gen military needs. At UCR, our access to students result in academic insight and expertise that can enhance human capabilities and save lives – an effort unmatched by other industries,” said Dr. Mahesh Neupane, ARL research scientist and UCR BCOE (ECE) alum embedded at UCR. Dr. Neupane, who is officially part of ARL-West research team, serves as a liaison between ARL and UCR and manages UCR-ARL CRADA/JWS research collaboration. Dr. Neupane is also affiliated with the ECE department as a research adjunct professor. According to Dr. Neupane, UC Riverside is one of the most diverse campuses in the country, offering a unique approach that results in innovative solutions to some of ARL’s research challenges.