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TecEdge, Air Force, collaborate on tough problems neither can crack alone

When industries and academians tackle tough problems, they often look to their own experience for answers. Ditto the military. If the TecEdge Innovation and Collaboration Center has its way, solutions will come not from silos, but from working together in cross-functional teams.

TecEdge and its sister organization, TecEdge Works Rapid Prototyping Laboratory, are part of the Wright Brothers Institute in Dayton. Recently relocated into bright new space next to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, TecEdge is hoping to break down barriers.

One way is through Discovery Forums, which are one- to- five day problem oriented sessions that bring together experts from diverse disciplines, says Wright Institute Director Les McFawn. Another is Resident Teams, which work at TecEdge for weeks or months -- or in some cases full time -- to intensely collaborate on problems, to experiment and to reach the initial stages of prototyping.

McFawn says it's not just the Air Force that benefits from the programs; "We had a commercial and industry partner on the very first project that we ran in the Discovery Lab. At the conclusion of the program were able to take what they had learned and apply it commercially."

In the meantime, both the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and TecEdge have teamed up to help develop the next generation of scientists and engineers, McFawn says. Summer at the Edge began three years ago with 15 students ranging from high school through Ph.D. Enrollment grew to more than 60 last summer. The AFRL is also sponsoring a new program called Wright Scholars in which students from the Dayton area spend time learning about technology needed for the future.

Source: Les McFawn, Wright Brothers Institute
Writer: Gene Monteith

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