DoD DESI pilot program selects university-industry teams

WASHINGTON. Department of Defense (DoD) officials selected five university-industry teams to support the Defense Enterprise Science Initiative (DESI), a pilot program that will focus on accelerating the impact of basic research on defense capabilities.

The goals of DESI include fostering sustainable university-industry partnerships to identify and apply new discoveries and knowledge on existing capabilities and address technological gaps. The initiative will also aim to charter a new pathway to accelerate the transfer of basic research to innovative technologies and complement the department’s other basic research programs such as the Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship, the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) and the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program.

“Programs like DESI are vital to foster collaboration in the research ecosystem and accelerate the transition of ground-breaking basic science to transformative capabilities,” says Dr. Bindu Nair, deputy director for basic research. “I look forward to seeing how these teams can help us address our unique and challenging defense problem sets.”

Each team will receive up to $1.5 million over two years to further fundamental knowledge and understanding in the context of end-use applications.

2018 Fiscal year teams and topics are as follows:

  • Topic: Power Beaming.

    • Topic Chief: Dr. Jason Marshall, Air Force.
    • Lead: The Boeing Co., Arizona State University, Syracuse University.
  • Topic: Highly Maneuverable Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
    • Topic Chief: Dr. Jean-Luc Cambier, Air Force.
    • Lead: Stanford University, Skydio.
  • Topic: Soft Active Composites With Intrinsic Sensing, Actuation and Control.
    • Topic Chief: Dr. Samuel Stanton, Army.
    • Lead: Northwestern University, TERA-print LLC.
  • Topic: Metamaterial-Based Antennas.
    • Topic Chief: Dr. Harold Weinstock, Air Force.
    • Lead: Duke University, University of Washington, Northrop Grumman.
  • Topic: Alternate Topics Encouraged for Innovative Proposals Unaligned to the Defined Themes.
    • Topic Chief: Dr. Stacie Williams, Air Force.
    • Lead: Stanford University, University of California, Merced Visor Corp.

DESI is sponsored by the Basic Research Office in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research administers the program in collaboration with the Army Research Office. For more information visit: