In the 8 months since the UCAH was established we have accomplished a great deal together. We built a strong, inclusive, and collaborative organization to achieve the goals congress set for us–better align hypersonic S&T efforts, transition ready technologies and develop the hypersonics workforce. As part of this building phase, we developed the processes and teams to manage all the aspects of this consortium (technical excellence, industrial integration, national lab engagement and workforce development). I want to acknowledge the substantial amount of effort, teamwork, and engagement from the Consortium members, TEES, the JHTO, and our contracting arm at the Washington Headquarters Service to make this happen.
Of course, we aspire to do more than to establish an organization, processes and teams. The impact of these efforts will come from leveraging this structure and organization in a way that tangibly achieves our goals to better align hypersonic S&T efforts, transition ready technologies, and develop the hypersonics workforce we need, that tangibly improves the nation’s hypersonic capabilities. We have gained momentum over the past number of months, and are now positioned to demonstrate and sustain impact. Over the next few months, we will:
- Complete Project Sub-Awards for the November solicitation. We ran a thorough and competitive process to evaluate the extraordinary White Papers and Proposals that were submitted and are anxious like all of you to see the real work get underway. We are in the process of negotiating seventeen sub-awards and intend for all work to begin with the next academic year.
- Complete forming and organizing the UCAH committees and boards, which include the Industrial Advisory Board, the National Lab Advisory Board, the Technology Transition Committee, and the Outreach and Workforce Committee. We see these not as stove-piped entities, but as working collaboratively to create the pathways needed to achieve our core objectives and inform our workforce and technology development needs.
- Release two additional solicitations within the next month, and another in the Fall. These solicitations will, respectively, focus on technically complex cross-disciplinary challenges; one-year efforts aligned against our six core technical areas; and another round of three-year core efforts in the Fall.
- Continue to develop and offer high-quality engagement opportunities for Consortium members. The impact of this is to educate, exchange ideas, and drive hypersonic development by building an eco-system together stronger than the sum of its parts. One intent behind our November S&T solicitation was to help bring together cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional teams to strengthen that ecosystem. We will continue to seek out such teaming in future solicitations. We will also continue to offer on-line seminars, Spring and Fall Forums, program reviews and career fairs to exchange ideas, provide the opportunity to meet new and old colleagues, and develop the future members of the enterprise.
- Develop and implement a scholarship program. We see this as an important part of developing the workforce by nudging great talent toward the hypersonic arena. We are in the process of identifying how we can accomplish this under the laws that circumscribe the UCAH contract.
- Allow the Military Services and other government agencies to use the Consortium to solicit and/or contract for project sub-awards. Having brought together the most skilled researchers from across the country, we see this as an opportunity for the government to tap into that extraordinary expertise and to further build the hypersonic enterprise. The policy is in place to do this, and we are now working on a pilot project to refine this process.
Our goals are ambitious and our efforts have been nonstop. Nonetheless, we have encountered challenges as we have all worked to build this extraordinary consortium. When you are trying to do things definitely, schedules will slip because of unexpected challenges and, like everyone, Covid 19 impacted best intents. We have redoubled our efforts, are benefitting from sometimes painful experiential leaning, realigned schedules, and added staff and manpower to help us achieve our objectives. With much behind us, we are firmly focused on impact and look forward to an even more exciting journey of programs, collaborative research, education and the transition of all of our efforts to hypersonic capabilities.
Thank you for your energy, interest and continued participation!