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Accelerating Technology Transition: Bridging the Valley of Death for Materials and Processes in Defense Systems

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Faster incorporation of new technologies into complex products and systems holds the possibility of ever-increasing advantages in cost, performance, durability, and new functionalities. A general perception on the part of many investigators is that incorporation of change is more difficult, expensive, and slow than it need be. The management of change in complex products and systems, however, does require an understanding of the significance of those changes as well as their consequences in terms of product performance and safety. Many lessons learned in practice have at their root the common theme that such understanding was not apparent at the time of commitment to and introduction of change. Thus certain industry segments such as aerospace have developed cultural beliefs that in part are focused on constraining change until significant evidence based on empirical use indicates that unintended consequences will not occur. The two sets of perceptions the desire for timely incorporation of change, and caution in the face of its possible effects create a significant tension between those charged with the development of new technology capabilities and those who feel accountable for the consequences of such technology incorporation. In November 2003, in response to a request from the Defense Science and Technology Reliance Panel for Materials and Processes of the Department of Defense DoD, the National Research Council held a workshop to address how to accelerate technology transition into military systems. The workshop centered on the need to better understand interactions between the various stakeholders in this process of the incorporation of technological change. The examples used and the focus of the workshop involved issues related to materials and processes for unclassified programs, although the hope is that learning gained from the workshop will be applicable to other technical domains of DoD programs.

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  • Information Science
  • Defense Systems

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