David Han: : Science of Autonomy in DOD basic research

April 29, 2015 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
B17 Hackerman Hall
Louis Whitcomb


The Department of Defense (DOD) funds long-term basic research in a wide variety of scientific and engineering fields with a goal of exploiting new knowledge to enhance-and where possible, transform-future capabilities. DOD-funded research is known for high-risk endeavors that have led to paradigm shifts in the nation’s technical capabilities. Revolutionary technologies such as GPS, Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) Microwave Electronics, Magnetic Random Access Memory (MRAM), and Kalman Filter are few of the examples.


Recently, the Science of Autonomy (SoA) came into focus as one of the DOD research interests with expectations of a great impact. The effort addresses critical multi-disciplinary research challenges that cut across different DOD departments and warfighting areas/domains. This involves control theory, computational intelligence, human factors, and related fields such as biology/animal behavior/cognition, economics/management theory, cognitive science/psychology, and neuroscience. Today’s presentation will briefly describe the backgrounds, some key aspects of these challenges, and the programs tackling these challenges.


Speaker Bio

David Han is the Associate Director for Basic Research in Machine Intelligence
and Robotics in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense Research &
Engineering (ASD (R&E)). The Basic Research Office (BRO) of the ASD (R&E)
oversees the entire basic research portfolio of the US DoD. He is an ASME
fellow and an IEEE senior member, and had been certified as a Professional
Engineer (PE) in mechanical branch in the State of Hawaii in 1985. Dr. Han
received a BS from Carnegie-Mellon University, and a MSE and a PhD from
Johns Hopkins University.
Early part of his career includes naval nuclear engineering at Pearl Harbor Naval
shipyard and design engineering at the R.M. Towill Corporation in Honolulu. He
had been a research engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) at
White Oak in the underwater weapons program, and had worked as a senior
professional staff at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU
APL) in naval missile defense and satellite power programs. He had been with
the University of Maryland at College Park as a visiting associate professor and
the Deputy Director of the Center for Energetic Concepts Development (CECD),
and also he was the Distinguished IWS Chair Professor of the Systems
Engineering Department of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. He spent over
eleven total years as a program officer at the Office of Naval Research (ONR)
managing basic and applied research, and advanced technology programs. From
2012 to 2014 he served as the Deputy Director of Research of the Office of
Naval Research (ONR) overseeing the Discovery and Invention (D&I) portfolio of
over $900 million dollars annually of basic and applied research.
Dr. Han has authored/coauthored over 60 peer-reviewed papers including 4 book
chapters. He has taught at Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland
Baltimore County, and Korea University. His research interests include
image/speech processing and recognition, machine learning, and human robot

Laboratory for Computational Sensing + Robotics