Assistant Director for Autonomy

Industry Engagement Day


The 2018 National Defense Strategy directs a focused investment in the modernization of key capabilities including advanced autonomous systems. In response, the DoD is investing broadly in the military application of autonomy, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, including rapid application of commercial breakthroughs, to gain competitive military advantages. The Assistant Director for Autonomy leads the DoD-wide, mission-focused strategy and execution plan for these investments, and invites innovative, non-traditional defense industry partners to participate in an Industry Engagement Day.

To foster collaboration among the DoD S&T community, the evolving Defense Innovation Ecosystem, and the businesses that continuously invent, reinvent, and apply value-creating technology solutions, these events are being held together in a U.S. hub of innovation, Boston, MA, and co-located with U.S. Air Force Accelerator Powered by Techstars Demo Day.

Industry Engagement Day is intended to encourage small businesses and/or non-traditional industry to work on defense autonomy, providing awareness of organizations and programs that target the acceleration and transition of innovative technologies.

Note: this event is intended for nontraditional industry. We reserve the right to balance the attendee list and prioritize nontraditional industry attendees.

Location Information


7:00am-8:00am  Registration

Tables with information on government autonomy challenges and opportunities are setup in the collaborative space.

8:00am-8:20am  Welcome and Introduction / Admin and Security

Mr. Wayne Nickols, Assistant Director for Autonomy for the Undersecretary of Defense (Research & Engineering).

8:20am-8:45am  OUSD(R&E) Autonomy Prioritization Area

Mr. Wayne Nickols covers topics around Autonomy, the National Defense Strategy (NDS), and the role of the Undersecretary of Defense (Research & Engineering).

8:45am-9:15am  Autonomy Community of Interest and the Simulation, Experimentation, Analytics and Test platform

Mr. JC Lede provides an overview of the Autonomy CoI and its role in engaging with industry. Dr. Nick Kasdaglis provides an introduction to the Simulation, Experimentation, Analytics and Test (SEAT) platform the Autonomy CoI is developing, and how it’s being leveraged for nontraditional industry engagement.

9:15am-10:15am  DoD Autonomy Technology Challenges Panel

Representatives from the Air Force, Army, and Navy share autonomy technology challenge areas.

10:15am-10:30am  Break

Tables with information on government autonomy challenges and opportunities are setup in the collaborative space.

10:30am-10:45am  The DoD Innovation Ecosystem

Overview and objectives of the DoD Innovation Ecosystem.

10:45am-12:00pm  Lowering the Barrier of Entry for Nontraditional Industry: An Introduction to Programs across the DoD Innovation Ecosystem

The DoD is changing the way it does business, adapting its processes and timeline to help remove barriers to entry for nontraditional industry. Hear from these organizations as they share an overview of their respective program, solicitation frequency, typical award amounts and timelines, processes, and elements of a good proposal.

12:00pm-12:45pm  Lunch Break

12:45pm-1:15pm  From Sourcing Technical Challenges to Accelerating Tech: Innovation in Practice

Warren Katz, Managing Director of the Air Force Accelerator Powered by Techstars, walks through the accelerator process from identifying technical gaps to technology transition – highlighting the cross-organization collaboration along the pipeline that’s necessary for successful acceleration and transition.

1:15pm-1:40pm  Success Story

A success story of the innovation community coming together to accelerate the technology development of a startup.

1:40pm-2:00pm  Summary and Wrap-Up

Additional Information

  • Event is unclassified.
  • Identification: A government-issued photo ID is required to enter the facility.
  • Coffee, snacks, and lunch will be available for purchase in the Federal Reserve Cafeteria. Food trucks are also accessible in the plaza across the street.
  • Parking: Nearby parking garages include: Atlantic Wharf Garage – 280 Congress Street; Two Financial Center Parking – 60 South Street; SP+ Parking – 237 Essex Street
  • Public Transportation (T Access): The Fed building is directly across the street from South Station (Red Line, Silver Line access).
  • Gadgets/laptops will be allowed in the auditorium.
  • Dress code: business casual
  • Registration deadline: 5:00 PM on 9 May.
  • We’re reviewing all registrants and we reserve the right to prioritize intended audience attendees.

REGISTER  to attend the Industry Engagement Day May 17