Original Date: 03/08/1999
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Problem Solving Focus
For more than 50 years, the Applied Research Laboratory at the Pennsylvania State University (ARL Penn State) has been in the problem-solving business. This particular focus serves the Navy in the areas of Naval warfare and undersea technology, and helped the Pennsylvania State University become the number-two ranked university in industrial research and development (R&D). Since funding mainly comes from government sources, most of the ARL Penn State’s efforts are oriented toward developing and improving technologies that enhance manufacturing practices, and reduce risks associated with fielding high quality, reliable Navy and Marine Corps weapon systems. The ARL Penn State also devotes a substantial portion of its efforts to working with industry and transferring dual- use technology to the commercial sector.
To best serve its clients’ needs, the ARL Penn State enlists many highly developed approaches for identifying opportunities where the laboratory can apply its assistance. For example, the Navy uses formal systems to identify and prioritize manufacturing technology (MANTECH) and repair technology issues. The ARL Penn State works closely with the Navy as these issues develop and then proposes projects, based on the University’s capabilities and technical expertise, to address these issues. The laboratory also maintains communication with Naval shipyards, depots, and centers to learn about problem areas that it may be able to resolve. Often, these organizations approach the ARL Penn State because of its reputation and/or proven expertise in solving technical and manufacturing related problems. Many problems identified in this manner become funded projects.
The ARL Penn State’s charter includes supporting technology transfer to enhance the United States’ economic competitiveness and, in this role, work closely with the private sector to identify opportunities for applying expertise/technology from the defense sector to commercial applications. The laboratory accomplished these objectives by interacting with industry through many consortia, partnerships, and alliance relationships. The ARL Penn State is also part of the University’s and the State of Pennsylvania’s economic development thrust, which responds to the needs and problems of industry through a technology transfer network. This network includes the ARL Penn State; cooperative extension and continuing education programs; the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program; small business development centers; Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Centers; and Ben Franklin Partnership programs. Most of these programs concentrate on small- and medium-sized businesses. In many cases, companies either directly come to the ARL Penn State with problems/requests or are referred to the laboratory by other organizations. Frequently, state-funded programs help pay for the assistance provided to these companies by the ARL Penn State.
By applying its broad array of technical expertise and resources, the ARL Penn State has solved hundreds of problems. These success stories play an important role in enhancing the readiness of the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as improving the Nation’s industrial and technological competitiveness. The ARL Penn State’s ability to identify and successfully tackle critical problems helps to sustain growth for itself as well as build a solid reputation for the University.
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