Lab Narratives

These in-depth stories were developed to raise awareness about the importance of Defense laboratories, engineering centers, and warfare centers as unique catalysts for innovation as well as showcase the critical work they perform. By sharing stories about the people and institutions behind science and technology, DoD STEM aims to increase interest in STEM careers.

 

The DoD labs are the foundation for research to support our nation’s defense. Since the earliest days in our history, private industry has built upon knowledge discovered by DoD and developed tools and conveniences for everyday use.

DoD STEM scientists and engineers are people who love problems – a good fit because the DoD labs have some of the most challenging problems out there. DoD STEM scientists and engineers are given the latitude and the responsibility to try to answer them.

 

The Art of The Possible

A team of engineers in the Navy’s flagship research lab in Washington, D.C. keep breaking their own records as they take lessons from past prototypes to build new autonomous systems to expand the capabilities and options available to the warfighter. Their mission is to investigate the art of the possible, whether it’s powering a drone with a liquid hydrogen fuel cell and making it fly for as long possible, or creating a disposable motorless micro-UAV that can glide in a swarm and create a network of sensors.

Military Branch: 
Navy
Science Type: 
Engineering, Mathematics, Chemistry, Technology
How an Air Force unit comprised of Ph.D. scientists, combat infantrymen and machinists invented a revolutionary IED-killing machine

The Deadliest Truck You'll Ever Meet

This is the story of an AFRL team that worked tirelessly for three years on a secret program to defeat the threat posed by improvised explosive devices. An estimated two-thirds of all American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan were caused by roadside bombs, according to the Department of Defense. By 2012, the team finally found the key to disabling IED’s before they could detonate and kill or maim anyone: high-powered microwave technology. They called the weapon they built to harness this power MAX POWER, and it was an IED killing machine.

Military Branch: 
Air Force
Science Type: 
Engineering, Physical Science, Physics, Technology
High-Flying Battle in the 21st Century

The Drone Warriors

How researchers at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division developed portable jamming systems that can stop enemy unmanned aerial vehicles from penetrating U.S. defenses.

Military Branch: 
Navy
Science Type: 
Engineering, Earth and Space, Mathematics, Physics, Technology

Watch and Learn

The modern military is “swimming in sensors and drowning in data,” officers say— and to solve that problem, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Sensors Directorate is developing artificial intelligence systems capable of interpreting video streams in real time, and instantly generating English-language descriptions of what they see. That’s a monumentally challenging task, but AFRL’s technology, which was developed by a SMART scholar using the AFRL’s Thunder supercomputer, recently beat a Facebook team and several other top research groups to win a prestigious international competition, delivering a major leap forward in machine-vision technology.

Military Branch: 
Air Force
Science Type: 
Applied Science, Earth and Space, Logic, Mathematics, Technology