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Electrical and Computer Engineering

Early this year, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson announced a new strategy to identify research and development projects that the Air Force Research Laboratory should be investigating by 2030.

“Our research strategy will look broadly and draw from the best of American research universities as well as Air Force and federal laboratories,” said Wilson, emphasizing the importance of fresh perspectives to ensure the Air Force stays on the cutting edge of technology.

“From jet engines to GPS, the Air Force has a rich history of researching and developing new technologies that become foundational capabilities for warfighters and a key part of everyday life for Americans,” said Maj. Gen. William Cooley, AFRL commander. “With this initiative, we are going out to listen to Americans from higher education to small and large businesses to understand what basic and applied technologies will help us create the next game-changing inventions for 2030 and beyond.”

Responding to this call, electrical and computer engineering researchers from Boise State University and Michigan State University held a workshop in Boise May 30-June 1. The workshop was designed to facilitate collaborative innovation among regional university researchers who could generate ideas which would potentially transform the US Air Force’s capabilities in air, space and cyber domains. Only university scientists and engineers participated in the workshop.

The workshop was led by ECE Department Chair Jim Browning, along with collaborators Kris Campbell (associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Boise State) and John Verboncoeur (professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan State).

Over the course of three days, researchers discussed ideas such as global health monitoring, hybrid electronics, tracking technology, computational science, advanced manufacturing, space systems and satellite defense. In the end, these ideas were incorporated into a technical report detailing science and technology investment opportunities, potential return on investment and alignment with Air Force objectives.

Drawing on the research ideas presented during the workshop, proposed research investments were illustrated in a comprehensive report which featured research descriptions, recommendations, proposed approaches and a roadmap outlining risk, feasibility and projected implementation timelines. Overall, 32 university researchers from 20 different universities attended the workshop, generating more than 40 research topics.