Air Force Research Lab Workshop Welcome at Science and Technology 2030 Initiative

Alumni Hall, Indiana Memorial Union
IU Bloomington

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie speaks before more than 300 researchers at the Air Force Research Lab Workshop, part of the Air Force's Science and Technology 2030 initiative. Photo by Chaz Mottinger, IU Communications

I am very pleased to welcome the distinguished representatives of the Air Force Research Laboratory, along with all those who have joined us from a wide variety of other institutions and businesses for this innovation workshop that is part of the U.S. Air Force’s Science and Technology 2030 initiative.

All of us are very pleased at IU’s selection to host such a workshop. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and all the senior leaders of the Air Force Research Lab are to be commended for devising this series of events that will help the Air Force stay on the leading edge of technological advances and help strengthen the security of our nation.

I am very pleased to welcome a number of senior military and civilians who are with us today, including Major General William Cooley, the commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory; Brigadier General Kip Clark, Chief of Staff of the Indiana Air National Guard, and Dr. Brett Seidle, technical director of NSWC Crane.

Higher Education and National Security

Indiana University greatly appreciates the many grants from the U.S. Air Force over the years that have supported the work of faculty members who are engaged in cutting edge research in fields that include artificial intelligence, atomic physics, and quantum information. IU is committed to continuing and strengthening its partnership with the Air Force, and with the Department of Defense more broadly, to bring the university’s resources and research expertise to bear to help strengthen our national security.

The impressive list of innovations that have resulted from previous Department of Defense investments in university basic research is well known. It includes the development of the laser, radar, fiber optics, infrared technologies, stealth technology, advanced composite materials,1 and many other technologies that support our military and have civilian applications as well.

In the 21st century, the military faces increasingly complex challenges. Today, all operating domains—air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace—are contested.  Just as the relentless impact of information technology has changed the very structure of American society and business in far-reaching ways, so too has it changed the character of warfare. State competitors and non-state-actors around the world are engaged in information warfare, denied proxy operations, and subversion. These malicious cyber-activities, and the capability of mass disruption that can result, have transformed global affairs. Terrorism, driven by ideology and political and economic instability, remains a persistent threat. New threats are emerging to commercial and military uses of space. And rogue regimes continue to seek and develop nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons of mass destruction.

Addressing these complex challenges will require new technologies. The new knowledge needed to develop such technologies will come, in large part, out of the basic research performed at America’s major research universities—universities like Indiana University and those assembled here today.

IU Research, Resources and Partnerships to Ehhance Cybersecurity, National Security

Let me take a moment to say just a little about Indiana University.

IU is a major, multi-campus public research institution, and a national leader in professional, medical, and technological education with an extensive history of research and scholarship of the highest order.

During the academic year that just ended, we had more than 112,000 students enrolled on our seven campuses around the state.

Starting last Friday and continuing all week until Saturday, IU has been holding Commencement ceremonies on these campuses, during which a record of more than 21,000 degrees will be awarded. Because I preside at nearly all of these ceremonies, I regret that I am unable to spend more time with you today.

Nine Nobel Laureates have been associated with IU as faculty members, postdoctoral researchers, or students.

IU also receives major external funding for research from such bodies as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, totaling over $500 million. Much of the path-breaking research, innovation, and scholarship that takes place in our laboratories and elsewhere every day leads to the development of new technologies that can be—and are being—brought to bear to strengthen our national defense.

IU’s School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering is one of 10 new schools established at IU in the last few years. In 2016, a new program in intelligent systems engineering was launched within the school. The program focuses on the engineering and design of small, mobile, personal technologies that integrate big data, computational modeling, and intelligent systems into their design. Faculty and students in the program also conduct cutting-edge research in molecular and nanoscale engineering, neuroengineering, and bioengineering.

IU is also a world leader in the uses and applications of information technology and in computer networking.

IU is home, for example, to the Global Research Network Operations Center, known as the GlobalNOC, which I helped establish nearly 20 years ago. The GlobalNOC operates and manages more than 20 high-speed national and international research and education networks, including Internet2, which connects more than 300 of the nation’s leading research universities and an estimated three million researchers.

We are also home to the only ISAC in the higher education sector—the Research and Education Networking Information Sharing and Analysis Center, known as the REN-ISAC. It plays a vital part in improving network security in higher education by assisting in the mitigation of cyber threats and vulnerabilities, improving awareness, and enhancing communications.

International and language studies are also among Indiana University’s academic strengths. We teach over 70 foreign languages, more than any other university in the United States. IU is also home to more Language Flagship programs, which teach languages that are central to American competitiveness and security, than any other university in the nation. The Language Flagship, which is an initiative of the National Security Education Program within the Department of Defense, has chosen IU Bloomington as the only location for its program in Turkish. We also have Flagship programs in Arabic and Chinese.

IU also has a long history of providing language training in a number of critical and strategic languages to ROTC students and military personnel. This history, which dates back to World War II, includes the Intensive Language Training Center, which was created in 1959 as the Air Force Language Program, with the primary aim of instructing cadets in spoken Russian during the Cold War.

The center of all our academic programs in languages and international affairs is our School of Global and International Studies, another of our 10 new schools. The school is also home to acclaimed research centers focused on nearly every region of the world that focus on the study of the histories, cultures, religions, politics, economies, institutions, art, and literature in these regions and the countries that comprise them.

Indiana University's Partnership with Crane

Another of IU’s longstanding partnerships—in this case with the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (known as NSWC Crane), which is about 25 miles southwest of Bloomington—illustrates how IU has worked to bring its resources to bear to help strengthen national security. Crane is the third largest naval installation in the world. It is one of Indiana’s largest employers, and the work that is done there is vital to the defense, protection, and security of the nation. IU has a number of agreements in place with NSWC Crane that make possible a wide range of collaborative research initiatives.

These include projects in public management and administration, energy and matter, chemistry, physics, and engineering programs. We also collaborate in informatics and computing, cybersecurity, kinesiology, optics, technology transfer, and intellectual property research. Last year, we announced a new partnership in which IU and Crane are working together to transform existing military sensor technology through machine learning and artificial intelligence.

And it is our goal to build yet further on all of this in future years.

In late 2015, Indiana’s Lilly Endowment awarded a number of grants totaling $42 million for regional development in 10 counties of Southwest Central Indiana. Among these was a $16.2 million grant to develop an applied research institute, which we have now done—and which is now known as the Indiana Innovation Institute, or IN3. Its CEO is retired four-star Air Force General Gene Renuart, who is an IU alumnus. This new institute will allow IU and its research partners to collaborate in a variety of areas of mutual research and technology strength. It will also seek to replicate a successful model that has been employed elsewhere in the nation, including in Dayton, Ohio, where the Air Force Research Lab works closely with the University of Dayton Research Institute and the Wright Brothers Institute.

These are just a few of the many research initiatives and other projects and partnerships in which Indiana University is engaged that are being—or have the potential to be—brought to bear to help strengthen our nation’s defense.

I thank all of you for being here. We truly hope that your time at Indiana University will be interesting, stimulating, and productive.

Finally, I wonder if I could ask Major General Cooley to join me here at the podium for a moment.

Associated with the Office of the President at Indiana University is a challenge coin, of the kind familiar to all members of the military. So, it is my great pleasure to present one to you, Major General Cooley, on behalf of Indiana University in recognition of and appreciation for your leadership and your work on this workshop, which Indiana University is honored to host.

Thank you very much.

Source Notes:

1. Statement of the Coalition for National Security Research, July 6, 2015, Web, Accessed May 7, 2018, URL: