As we look back on 2023, we’re highlighting how the Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) achievements this year are building a path of continuous progress towards a more secure future.
It seems like we say this every December, but it’s true—the year has flown by. Looking back on what S&T accomplished in 2023, I am once again grateful to our partners in the United States and across the globe for their commitment to advance our nation’s scientific and technical capabilities. Together, we’ve made important strides that the Directorate will continue to build on in 2024 and for years to come. As we turn the page on 2023, I want to highlight how the work we’ve done this year will foster ongoing progress that’s vital to our mission.
Honoring Twenty Years of Service
We celebrated S&T’s 20th anniversary this year, and it was a great opportunity to highlight how the Directorate’s leadership and workforce have spent the past two decades building a unique and agile government research and development organization that responds quickly to short-term needs while investing in capabilities that will achieve long-term security goals. One thing stood out across all the stories from our first twenty years: A shared commitment to public service and protecting the nation. This spirit is the bedrock of everything we do at S&T, and I’m proud to see how it shows up in our staff today. You can hear this commitment to service in our Technologically Speaking podcast, where each episode showcases the technical expertise and enthusiasm S&T personnel apply to pressing homeland security topics.
Facilitating Technology Transition
Speaking of S&T staff, I was very proud to welcome our first cohort of graduates through the Security Technology Transition MBA program in July. Students gained valuable insight into the technology transition process, particularly on how to help move solutions through the “Valley of Death” between conducting academic research and product commercialization. This insight is going to have a big payoff for the entire Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the years ahead. The technology transition process can be notoriously challenging in the homeland security field, so S&T’s industry partners will benefit from working with our qualified staff to efficiently transition new solutions and get them in hands of the officials. This MBA program is one of the latest ways S&T is uniquely positioned to guide the development, testing, and evaluation of new solutions that will make our nation safer.
Empowering the Next Generation
In addition to the MBA program, we reached another important educational milestone in 2023. The Directorate placed 97 summer interns across the DHS enterprise through our Homeland Security Professional Opportunities for the Student Workforce to Experience Research (HS-POWER) program, including 28 here with us at S&T. This represents an 87% increase in program participants over last year. The students and their S&T staff mentors worked closely together on mission-critical research areas, giving the interns a first-hand look into how they can apply their scientific expertise to the global challenges they’ll face in the years to come. HS-POWER is a great incubator, equipping the nation’s next generation of technical experts with insight into how they can apply their skills to the homeland security field. The knowledge they’ve gained through this program will foster enthusiasm for the Directorate’s mission, and I personally can’t wait to see how these students will help strengthen our nation’s security.
Building Research Capabilities
2023 marked the end of an era for S&T and the start of a new decades-long academic partnership. We completed the construction of the new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), and I’m very pleased to note that we did so on time and under budget. The work done at NBAF will be critical to protecting the nation’s food supply, agriculture economy, and public health. This is an essential resource for our country, and I’m proud of S&T’s role in building and transitioning the facility to our partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Looking to 2024
In coming weeks we’ll share more glimpses into an action-packed 2023 with S&T’s official Year in Review, but we’ll offer a tease here of what else lies ahead for S&T. Hint: we’re going to continue pursuing new ways to secure our nation and empower our communities through innovative solutions and emerging technologies. You’ll hear from us about artificial intelligence, climate resilience, transportation security, and our ongoing commitment to our first responders…and much, much more. We hope you’ll join us for the ride. It’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly, and we couldn’t do it without our fantastic staff and partners. Thank you for making 2023 a success, and on behalf of everyone at S&T, I hope you have a joyful, safe holiday season and a Happy New Year!