2014 Laboratory Director of the Year Far West

2014 Laboratory Director of the Year Far West

SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific) provides the U.S. military with essential capabilities in the areas of command and control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR). As a Department of Defense (DOD) lab, SSC Pacific’s leadership consists of both a military Commanding Officer (CO) and a civilian Executive Director (ED). Carmela Keeney became the ED for SSC Pacific in December 2005, and Captain Joseph Beel served as the the CO from December 2010 to December 2013.

Captain Beel and Ms. Keeney believe that technology transfer plays a vital role in allowing the U.S. to gain a competitive edge against potential adversaries. Through various mechanisms, SSC Pacific’s cutting edge technologies can be transferred to industry to create a robust industrial base that supports the DOD’s mission, which is to support the warfighter.

Captain Beel and Ms. Keeney are committed to rewarding SSC Pacific inventors for their hard work and dedication to innovation. Prior to 2010, incentive awards were given to inventors for patent applications filed and patents issued. In 2010, the lab expanded awards to include invention disclosures submitted. Since then, SSC Pacific has paid inventors a staggering $810K in incentive awards. This is in addition to the nearly $200K in licensing revenues distributed to inventors during that time through the lab’s generous royalty-sharing program.

Both Captain Beel and Ms. Keeney recognize that effective technology transfer requires engagement with industry and academia. For instance, SSC Pacific explored using video and social media to market technologies. After SSC Pacific’s seawater antenna YouTube video became popular at the end of 2010, The Economist, WIRED, Popular Science, CBS SmartPlanet, Navy Times, and various blogs published articles on the technology. All articles provided positive exposure for SSC Pacific. To date, the video has been viewed more than 150,000 times, and SSC Pacific continues to receive inquiries concerning the technology.

Partners that exemplify Captain Beel’s and Ms. Keeney’s desire to impact the economy through technology transfer include two startups. Assure Controls was founded in 2005 by an entrepreneur who discovered an SSC Pacific technology on measuring water toxicity using bioluminescent plankton. The company licensed the technology and entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with SSC Pacific. Assure Controls was able to transform a large bench-top system into a portable handheld device. This device was used by the University of South Florida during cleanup efforts in the wake of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Lumedyne Technologies, created in 2006 by a former SSC Pacific employee, licensed a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)- based accelerometer and executed a CRADA to collaborate and further develop the technology. The company now has more than 20 employees and is backed by over $10M in investment funds

Award Year: 
Region: 
Far West