In a mid-summer virtual lunch with student interns, MITRE President and CEO Dr. Jason Providakes said, “We’ve had all this bad news [this summer], but the fact that MITRE can continue an internship program is a testament to our commitment of building the future workforce and serving the public interest.” A key part of MITRE’s overall student program this past summer, which involved nearly 500 student staff members, was the Emerging Technologies Summer Student Research Program, which began in 1989, and despite the pandemic, successfully completed its 32nd summer in 2020, under the leadership of Dr. James Ellenbogen.
The classic conception of an intern is a minion who brings people coffee, fixes printer jams, and does grunt work. The interns hired by MITRE’s Emerging Technologies Department, however, are not minions. They are student investigators charged with helping to solve overwhelming societal problems. Read profiles of four of these interns and their summer work in the public interest.
At first glance, creativity might seem like the ability to make something from nothing. That isn’t actually true, but creativity does require an active imagination and the ability to judge what, among all the imagined things, might have value, given what you’re trying to accomplish. Creativity in engineering and in the arts requires the ability to generate a wide variety of ideas that relate to the goals of the effort, often the more ideas the better. Judgment is then used to evaluate the merits and flaws of each idea.
Regular sources of stress in our lives can arise from challenges at work, challenges in personal life such as with partnership and parenting, and challenges from societal divisions at home and abroad, among many other factors. With one public crisis after another appearing in the news to add to what’s happening directly in our lives, these stress factors may pile on and conspire to make well-being hard to maintain.
Every year countless Americans with disabilities interact with government resources for everything from receiving benefits to registering to vote. But not all websites are created equal, and even fewer are designed with the disabled community in mind. Enter project Demodocus, a new automated approach to test websites of all kinds on how usable they really are for those who need more than just a keyboard and mouse.
On the evening of April 13, 1970, there was a loud “BAM!”, then “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”
Apollo 13 had “lost” the moon because an oxygen tank explosion that wasn’t predicted caused a series of systems failures in propulsion, electrical power, and life support, and the world focused on how three isolated men over 200,000 miles from Earth would get safely home.
The American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) has honored MITRE with its 2020 Excellence in Knowledge Management (KM) award, recognizing us as one of the top organizations in the world for our mature KM capabilities. MITRE scored a level five—the highest possible score—in most of the areas the association assessed.
Military members and first responders learn early in their training how to deal with stress because of the inherent danger of their occupation. Although stress certainly comes with being in harm’s way, they may also experience stress that comes with facing the unknown, time pressures, and challenging tasks.
It’s an understatement to say that we’ve all experienced a lot of change during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenges, some positives have come out of this situation, especially when it comes to how federal agencies and other organizations have quickly adapted to keep the government running and work moving. Organizational agility has been a goal for many years now, with numerous agency mission statements highlighting the need for it.
Agencies call on MITRE to help navigate all manner of unique challenges, but not all projects are lean enough for the innovations that agencies seek. That’s where Justin Brunelle comes in. Justin has developed a reputation as division technical integrator, helping pair trail-blazing research with government use cases.
MITRE’s talents for strategic modernization (e.g., enterprise planning, organizational change, business innovation, technology transitioning) are informed by both our explicit knowledge and our tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is what we objectively know. Explicit knowledge can be readily articulated, codified, stored and accessed, and transmitted to others, and represents an estimated 20% of our knowledge (e.g., plans, reports, data analysis). Implicit or tacit knowledge is more subjective.
A recent discussion with colleagues on intriguing approaches and paths to innovation triggered my systems thinking habits – to explore and understand challenges systemically. What I ended up discovering were multiple dimensions of innovation, particularly for collaborative innovation.
Innovation doesn’t just happen, and it cannot be forced. It takes time, effort, and commitment to find a new path forward. Still, sometimes asking the right question can set us on that path. That is the goal of MITRE’s Open Innovation Challenge.
Every year, MITRE’s independent research and development program receives over 1000 research project ideas from across the organization and selects approximately 200 for funding. When Dr. Shelley Kirkpatrick received funding from the MITRE Innovation Program (MIP) in 2017 to research the principles of organizational agility, little did she know that three years later her work would be a big hit in Las Vegas.
Most organizations typically plan for one type of opponent (one future) even though a better approach would be preparing for multiple opponents (multiple futures), building in the much-needed resiliency. One approach that helps build this resiliency into organization is Strategic Foresight, an approach developed by Herman Kahn in the 1950s to help the US contemplate and plan for various outcomes of the Cold War including Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) using applications from game theory.
When you’re a large government organization, it can be hard to be innovative. You have a lot of moving parts and not a lot of time or resources. You can always lean on an innovation organization to help you along the way, but the question remains: “How do you know you’re really innovating?” Fortunately, Paula and Dan are on the case.
“Field of Dreams” is a delightful movie. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and curl up on a do-nothing night and watch it. But even if you haven’t seen “Field of Dreams”, I’m sure you’ve heard the most famous line from it, “if you build it, he will come.” But since language is more fluid than the ocean, and changes to suit the context du jour, you more than likely have heard it as, “if you build it, they will come.”
Privacy engineering involves injecting legal, policy, and ethical requirements into technology. It takes perspective to effectively manage privacy risk while keeping the big picture in focus. Fortunately, Julie McEwen, MITRE’s Privacy Engineering Capability Area Lead, is on the case. She and her team provide policy and technical privacy support to MITRE’s sponsors while managing privacy operations in support of MITRE’s Chief Privacy Officer.
Awais Sheikh is the Capability Steward for Business Innovation here at MITRE. In this episode Awais helps us decipher a fundamental question for any organization on a mission to better the world. When you get past the hype, what is the real meaning of innovation? And perhaps more importantly, how can we get past the jargon so we can make a lasting, positive impact?
As part of their research into veteran mental health, MITRE Veterans Council members and the Design for Life MITRE Innovation Program research team hosted a design studio dedicated to hearing directly from veterans about their transition from active duty to civilian life.