TEG Speaker Series: Dr. Kelly Stephani

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The Hoover Technology, Economics, and Governance Working Group held a discussion on Technology, Policy, and Timescales: Informing and Accelerating U.S. Technological Readiness and Competition featuring Dr. Kelly Stephani on October 26, 2023, at 12:30 pm PT.

Presentation Overview

The 2022 National Defense Strategy, as well as defense and intelligence officials, have identified several emerging technologies that promise to shape the national security landscape for years to come. These technologies include: (i)artificial intelligence; (ii) lethal autonomous weapon systems; (iii) hypersonic weapons; (iv) directed energy weapons; (v) biotechnology; and (vi) quantum technology. These emerging capabilities will challenge the U.S. multi-domain battle space across the services, both in the near-term (2027) and in the future (2040+).  

Our adversaries are finding creative ways to identify and accelerate the integration of these listed technologies at an unprecedented rate. This creates an asymmetry in the comparative Technology Readiness Level (TRL), Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL), and Integration Readiness Level (IRL) between the U.S. and its adversaries. Furthermore, the comparative timescales for technology maturation and transition to fielded capabilities directly impact perceived parity or near parity with our adversaries and U.S. policies on deterrence and defense posture.

This discussion assessed the timescales over which adversaries identify, develop, and deploy disruptive technologies, including TRL, MRL, and IRL strategies, as well as the networks and flow of information that enable development of critical capabilities. We reviewed recent policy intended to protect information around emerging technologies from government laboratories, academia, and industry.

About the Speaker

Kelly Stephani is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering and affiliate professor of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and the Materials Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prof. Stephani is also associate director of the Center for Hypersonics and Entry Systems Studies, codirector of the University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics, a member of the National Academies Board on Army Research and Development standing committee, and an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She received the NASA Early Career Faculty Award and was granted a US Air Force Research Lab Summer Faculty Fellowship in 2015; earned the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Program Award in 2017; and received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2019.

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