Research & Innovation

U.S. Department of Defense Taps Stevens Institute of Technology to Improve Defense Acquisition System

New center led by Stevens will support the transformation of the defense acquisition system to help the DoD respond to the rapid technological advancements critical to today’s warfighter

(Hoboken, N.J. – Nov. 30, 2020) – In an increasingly complex global security environment, Stevens Institute of Technology has been tapped to leverage its top systems engineering researchers as well as its nationwide network of experts from universities across the country to infuse the U.S. defense acquisition system with the agility and speed now needed to better respond to the rapid increase of technological advancements critical to today’s warfighter. 

Under the direction of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (OUSD A&S), the work will be led by Stevens’ Dinesh Verma in the newly-created Acquisition Innovation and Research Center (AIRC) within the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC). Verma will be responsible for fueling a culture of innovation to find new and creative solutions to streamline acquisitions, improve analytical capabilities, and promote creative compliance. Through piloting, experimentation, modeling and analytics, innovative ideas will be translated into updated instructions, policies, procedures and practices.

“The world is moving more quickly than ever,” said Verma, professor and executive director of SERC, which was established in 2008 as a national resource for solving systems challenges that are critical to our national security. “This work will enable the United States to respond to adversaries not only quickly, but in a way that integrates policies, data and the country’s values, ultimately protecting our warfighters and benefitting civilians.” 

The DoD works with a budget of three-fourths of a trillion dollars to acquire goods and services from contractors, federal arsenals and shipyards to support military operations. Policies and regulations govern the three-step defense acquisition process of identifying the required weapon system, establishing a budget, and acquiring the system—a process that involves the coordination, training, education and compliance of more than 300,000 people. The process is based on phases, milestones and reviews and depends on a network of many moving parts to ultimately provide military personnel with goods and services they need to uphold peace today and in the future. 

As AIRC is established, the intent is to continuously engage the broad talent of researchers and subject matter experts across government, industry and the SERC/AIRC university network to create an innovation ecosystem that promotes academic analysis and innovative policy alternatives to improve defense acquisition outcomes. These outcomes will be powered by evidence-based, data-driven decision-making rather than a reliance on tacit knowledge. 

With the $2.3 million award from the DoD, the center will also serve as an operational research arm of OUSD A&S, integrating data with policy, law and contracting. The AIRC will present their most innovative ideas to bring adaptability, flexibility and creativity to the defense acquisition process for the purpose of delivering the most effective goods and services to warfighters in the most efficient manner possible. 

The new center will be closely aligned with SERC, a university-affiliated research center of the DoD that recently surpassed the milestone of earning more than $100 million in funding since being founded. The new acquisition research center will also use SERC’s network of universities, including Georgia Tech, University of Southern California, Purdue University, Carnegie Mellon, University of Virginia, University of Maryland, Texas A&M University, Air Force Institute of Technology and the Naval Postgraduate School. Stevens will  lead the AIRC initially in collaboration with Georgetown University and Virginia Tech, which are also part of SERC’s network.

“We look forward to bringing together top talent from Stevens and across academia, government and industry to help guide how the DOD leverages their creativity and research findings,” said Verma. “We will lean on this creativity with our partners to ultimately create a better solution to bring the best technologies to our warfighters and soldiers.”

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About Stevens Institute of Technology 

Stevens Institute of Technology is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, New Jersey overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Since our founding in 1870, technological innovation has been the hallmark of Stevens’ education and research. Within the university’s three schools and one college, 7,300 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate closely with faculty in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment. Academic and research programs spanning business, computing, engineering, the arts and other disciplines actively advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront our most pressing global challenges. As Stevens celebrates its 150th anniversary, the university continues to be consistently ranked among the nation’s leaders in career services, post-graduation salaries of alumni, and return on tuition investment.

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