Undersea technology defense research a key sector of RI economy
Rhode Island has a wealth of organizations engaged in some form of undersea technology and its applications. Many of these provide invaluable technologies and technical support to the Department of Defense (DoD) and contribute significantly to Rhode Island’s economy and job base. The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport is our Nation’s premier undersea technology defense research and development enterprise. The Rhode Island Defense cluster has an annual economic impact of $3.7 billion, and represents the largest wage sector in our state. Defense is crucial to Rhode Island’s economic stability and growth, now and in the future.
Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel referred to Rhode Island as the “the Silicon Valley of undersea technology.” To continue to support vital defense missions, we must engage the entire technology community. To remain on the cutting edge of capabilities, we must actively and openly communicate to share collective needs, capabilities and insights that can support the security of our nation.
The Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance (SENEDIA) with our strategic partner, the Undersea Technology Innovation Center, recently initiated a Tech Talks series. These are a series of technical undersea-related topics that are shared, discussed and explored by academia, industry and defense, to develop shared insight and understanding of respective capabilities, needs, and interests. We are excited to create these opportunities to bring participants together to communicate and collaborate on programs, capabilities and initiatives that are important to our specialized and growing undersea technology ecosystem. Through Tech Talks we facilitate the broad spectrum of undersea technology community members being able to share common areas of interest efficiently and effectively. These events also allow this community to advance undersea technologies and applications from development to real-world applications.
Our first two Tech Talks focused on some of the technology needs of NUWC Division Newport. These discussions focused on the NUWC’s Annual Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) held at the Narragansett Bay Test Facility and the vision for the next generation of unmanned underwater vehicles. Both Tech Talks were filled to capacity and provoked important follow-on technical conversations.
Future Tech Talks will focus on other technology needs of NUWC Division Newport, as well as technology needs of prime contractors supporting DoD. Highlights will include overviews of programs and technology challenges/opportunities. These discussions will strengthen the relationships within the industry and help these businesses thrive in our state. Aside from the economic advantages, Tech Talks will further establish Rhode Island as a place where excellence and innovation in defense and undersea technology prospers.
We invite companies and organizations who work in defense and undersea technology to attend upcoming Tech Talks. Information on these events is available at www.SENEDIA.org.
The defense and undersea technology cluster is of growing importance to Rhode Island. Leveraging the knowledge and technology of this cluster will continue to ensure national security and provide economic growth and prosperity for our state.
Molly Magee is the executive director of the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance.