The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) conducted the latest iteration of its quarterly Joint Interagency Field Experimentation (JIFX) program from Feb. 6-10 at the NPS Field Lab at Camp Roberts, Calif., with a focus on human performance monitoring and situational awareness.
During the week-long JIFX 23-2 event, a total of 181 registered participants conducted and observed 21 experiments. JIFX participants represented a wide range of organizations, including key stakeholders such as the Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC), Naval Special Warfare, U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) and U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC),
One of the highlights from the week was the thesis work of NPS student Hellenic Army Capt. Stergios Barmpas, who focused on the exploration of multispectral imaging in camouflage detection using an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) platform.
Barmpas leveraged a huge advantage offered by JIFX events – access to restricted airspace to conduct field experimentation to advance his NPS research. But that wasn’t the only benefit, he said.
“I think sometimes you’re constrained by the academic environment, not being able to get in touch with stakeholders that are in the armed forces or government,” said Barmpas. “By coming here, you can get in touch with those stakeholders and other people developing systems that can advance your research.”
Capt. Barmpas proved himself knowledgeable, adaptive, competent, generous, and engaging,” noted retired U.S. Army Col. Michael Richardson, the director of JIFX. “His highly-relevant research found interest with several military stakeholders who requested to be included on the distribution list for his thesis. In short, Capt. Barmpas was an exemplar of the warrior-scholars we celebrate at NPS.”
JIFX focuses on collaboration between government, the military, commercial industry, and academia to influence innovation, identifying and accelerating early-stage technology that addresses national and collective security challenges.
“In a lot of ways, our community is very inclusive,” said NPS Faculty Associate for Research Ashley Hobson. “So we see a lot of technologies that you wouldn't typically see at government events. And the reason why I think that's so important is because folks that are coming out here with experience and military backgrounds from tons of different paths are able to give lots of good feedback to the companies that might not get that feedback day to day or wherever they, you know, during their cycle just from the folks in their company.”
According to Richardson, the JIFX program’s mission is to provide alternative methods for rapid technological development.
“We essentially focus in on bringing together two communities in a dialogue,” said Richardson. “The first community is men and women who have needs to conduct research primarily with emerging technologies, or related to emerging technologies, and their potential applications and security and defense related areas. That group includes academics from civilian universities. It includes national laboratory people. It includes NPS faculty and students. And the largest draw comes out of commercial industry.”
One first-time JIFX observer was NPS alumnus Dennis Danko, program manager for the Joint Prototyping and Experimentation Maritime (JPEM) program at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock Division in Bethesda, Md. According to Danko, JIFX offers a unique opportunity to leverage two established experimentation programs for a broad range of applications.
“I’ll talk to them and I’ll look at these technologies that JIFX is experimenting with on land, and I’ll see if they have a maritime application,” said Danko. “I’ll ask the question, ‘Will it work on a boat, on the water?’ And I’ll take from what I learned at JIFX and try to apply it to the maritime world. The same thing happens back with JIFX – maybe they find something that is in the maritime domain but ask the question, ‘Will it work on land?’
“The idea would be, we would be on the water component. JIFX would run on the land component, looking at things from an all-domain perspective,” added Danko.
The collaboration with academia, industry and government that occurs at JIFX is a key instance of how NPS finds potential solutions to national defense and fleet challenges.