Joseph Wienand, ECBC Honored for Tech Transfer Initiatives
Joseph Wienand, director of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) received the Laboratory Director of the Year Award at the 2014 Federal Laboratory Consortium national meeting on April 23. The award recognizes ECBC’s many outstanding contributions to support technology transfer activities, including internal accomplishments, industry involvement and community services.
This year’s FLC theme, “Accelerating Innovation for Economic Impact,” focused on the creativity and dedication federal scientists have contributed toward advancing technology transfer efforts in ways that benefit the nation’s economy. The FLC for Technology Transfer (T2), formally chartered by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986, provides federal laboratories with the resources to rapidly integrate research and development technologies into the mainstream U.S. marketplace.
“Our researchers handle some of the most dangerous compounds known to mankind, things like nerve gas and anthrax,” said Wienand during the Lab-Industry Executive Forum prior to the awards reception at the FLC national meeting. “ECBC develops the protective systems for our military to defend against these threats, and utilizes partnerships with industry, academia and other government agencies to get a product into the hands of the warfighter more quickly.”
Through T2 efforts, ECBC is able to identify a customer need and develop a product that can improve defense in theater. Understanding the critical role T2 has in fulfilling Department of Defense missions, Wienand established T2 as one of his highest priorities after becoming director in 2010, and integrated it into the Center’s strategic goals. Advancing T2 is no less than a matter of national security for Wienand, who has consistently encouraged the Center’s scientists, researchers and engineers to push intellectual property “outside the fence.”
One of the most significant T2 achievements for ECBC occurred on June 27, 2013 when the Center, in partnership with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, signed a technology transfer agreement with the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense for the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System. The FDHS is a new weapons of mass destruction elimination technology with a 99.9 percent destruction efficiency rate. The FDHS is currently supporting the joint mission between the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations to destroy Syria’s stockpile of chemical agent.
The typical acquisition process for a federal laboratory could take between five and 10 years. The FDHS stand up occurred in an unprecedented six months, enabling DoD to address an identified capability gap in U.S. chemical disposal operations and apply proven hydrolysis technology to an evolving real-world chemical weapons threat. The transition also signified advanced development and future integration of the technology into the Chemical Biological Defense Program Portfolio. The portfolio assists Congress, the DoD and other government agencies in understanding the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense capabilities that have been fielded to the warfighter.
The award also recognized Wienand’s effort to promote innovation throughout ECBC, motivating scientists and engineers to pursue good ideas that can quickly become real-world solutions. The Colorimetric Reconnaissance Explosive Squad Screening Kit, for example, is currently moving toward full fielding, and will provide soldiers with the capability to screen for suspected homemade explosive materials in the field. Wienand demonstrated the CRESS Kit during the panel discussion at the FLC national meeting.
The small, lightweight and easy-to-use technology captures bulk chemical and biological materials in a sticky residue located inside a specially designed four-compartment plastic containing. When soldiers fold the container in half, the reagents contained on the other side of the kit mix with the suspect materials, turning color when in contact with four specific HME precursor chemicals. This rapid-response technology not only improves warfighter defense against CB agents in the field, it also has a wide variety of uses for first responders as well.
The patent-pending CRESS Kit demonstrates how ECBC uses its expertise in chemistry and engineering to rapidly develop a solution for both the warfighter and the commercial market. Partnering with industry helps avoid any potential delays in the process, and provides an opportunity for a nonexclusive patent license agreement for the technology.
Wienand joins more than 30 other directors of federal laboratories who been honored with the Laboratory Director of the Year award over the years. Wienand noted that ECBC has a long history of exceptional technology transfer efforts, bolstered in recent years by its employees’ commitment to new partnerships with industry, academia and other government organizations. I95