The Program Officers of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research completed their 56th annual Spring Review, which ran from 4 March through 8 March in Arlington, Va
This annual assessment of AFOSR’s research portfolio highlighted not only the overall research portfolio, but emphasized the numerous basic research transitions of benefit to the United States Air Force.
In attendance were senior members of the organization as well as an online audience of over 1,200 attendees from other Air Force laboratories, universities and industry, many of whom would have been unable to travel to the event person. Interested participants were also able to download copies of the presentations and did so nearly 5,000 times during the week.
This is the third year that AFOSR has opened this annual event to the broad public by opting to stream it online, a decision that has helped improve the communication flow and transparency of a small organization with a big mission for the United States Air Force.
Since its establishment in 1951, AFOSR has been responsible for investing in extramural basic research programs at leading universities and in-house (intramural) Air Force laboratories. During the first five years of AFOSR’s existence, the annual budget was relatively lean (as was the staff–between 20 to 27 personnel).
It was then that history intervened when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first earth satellite, in October 1957. Almost overnight, AFOSR’s budget almost doubled, and with it, a gradual boost in personnel. Sputnik was a major wake-up call regarding the overwhelming importance of science and technology to the future security, as well as economic vitality, of the United States.
For several decades thereafter, AFOSR held not only a Spring Review, but a Fall Review as well. By 1975, AFOSR was responsible for all Air Force basic research funding, and the bi-annual reviews continued to provide a formal review of the status and areas of emphasis in the overall basic research portfolio.
Although AFOSR reverted to an annual review in the 1990′s, this management tool continues to provide an excellent opportunity for both an introspective self-examination of a wide-ranging research portfolio as well as welcoming the views of customers and stakeholders in the continuous pursuit of cutting edge research that forges the foundation of our future Air Force.
For those who missed the 2013 Spring Review, presentations and video recordings for each Program Officer are still available for download here