TechSolutions has just celebrated its 1000th request for a technology-driven solution identified by the Sailors and Marines on the frontlines of the mission.
“Necessity is the mother of invention, which is why it’s so important to deliver what our warfighters need when they need it – not five to ten years later, but as soon as possible,” said Capt. Andy Berner, commanding officer of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Global, which oversees TechSolutions.
“When a viable request comes in, TechSolutions works to put that technology into the hands of our Sailors and Marines within months while other procurement requests are still working their way through red tape.”
Jason Payne, director of TechSolutions, said they are looking forward to celebrating the next milestone, number 1500, which he hopes comes in sooner than the first 500 requests since warfighters can now contact TechSolutions directly by phone, email, Teams, or through the ONR mobile app.
In 2001, then-Chief of Naval Research, Rear Admiral Jay M. Cohen, USN (Ret.), stood up TechSolutions at ONR as a pilot program drawing on his experience as an ensign assigned to a submarine in the Tonkin Gulf. Cohen said he made two suggestions in 1969 to what was then called the Bureau of Ships.
“Several months later I received two letters from the bureau that thanked me for my input but basically said ‘not invented here’ and my suggestions went no further,” said Cohen.
Thirty-plus years later, in the summer of 2000, as chief of naval research, Cohen made good on that promise, sharing his original vision with a group of Sailors stationed at Kings Bay, Georgia.
Susan Bales worked with Cohen as the director of the Science Advisor program from 2001 to 2004 for what was then called the Naval Fleet/Force Technology Innovation Program. She said TechSolutions represented a huge cultural shift in naval research.
One of those “things” early on was a request from Sailor who had just been to a hockey game and saw a Zamboni cleaning the rink. Greg Hays was working at TechSolutions at the time and recalled that the Sailor asked if a Zamboni could be employed to clean aircraft carrier decks.
“Because aircraft carriers were cleaned with mops, and tons and tons of guys literally scrubbing it by hand, that was a good example of using technology to replace the raw power – the labor intensive requirements going on the ships,” said Hays, who is now with the Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic.”
The modified Zamboni is still in use and Jason Payne, the current director of TechSolutions, said they’ve recently received a request to make a robotic version.
Payne said they are looking forward to celebrating the next milestone, number 1500, which he hopes comes in sooner than the first 500 requests since warfighters can now contact TechSolutions directly by phone, email, Teams, or through the ONR mobile app.