Award Gallery

Bartley P. Durst: Bringing experience as an innovator to his support for GSL technology transfer

Award: Laboratory Director of the Year

Year: 2022

Award Type: National

Laboratory:

As a longtime researcher with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Bartley P. Durst earned a reputation for innovation. Now, as director of the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL) within the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), he’s known for championing partnerships that turn innovations into impactful opportunities.

GSL tackles some of the world’s toughest civil and military engineering challenges by developing technologies that prioritize structural resilience. Durst can relate: A USACE researcher since 1982, he holds more than 20 patents related to survivability and protective structures research. That experience forms the foundation of Durst’s commitment to technology transfer (T2).

“I’m very passionate about T2, not only for my own team, but also for those at other ERDC labs,” Durst said. “It can be hard to let go of something you invented, nurtured, prototyped, tested and evaluated. At the same time, letting go is an essential step in moving the technology forward so that it can change lives.”

“I’m very passionate about T2, not only for my own team, but also for those at other ERDC labs,” Durst said. “It can be hard to let go of something you invented, nurtured, prototyped, tested and evaluated. At the same time, letting go is an essential step in moving the technology forward so that it can change lives.”

In five years under Durst’s leadership, GSL has nearly doubled the total number of licenses issued, more than doubled the number of Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) and nearly tripled the total number of patents issued. Durst appreciates cross-pollination and collaboration outside ERDC’s walls. The Soft Asset Protection in Critical Environments (SPICE) Initiative, established by GSL and ERDC in 2018 in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, continues to commercialize technologies aimed at protecting civilians from mass casualty attacks in public spaces.

Durst was a major player in two T2 agreements that have enabled the lab to engage with small businesses and other partners that are new to federal collaborations. ERDC’s first-ever Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) with DEFENSEWERX created ERDCWERX, an innovation hub that has connected ERDC technology with more than 10,000 companies in three years. ERDC’s first Other Transaction Authority (OTA) mechanism facilitated its work with the System of Systems Consortium, which connects the GSL with more than 200 industry and academic partners.

The best testament to Durst’s personal and professional commitment to leveraging T2 is the Modular Protective System (MPS). The MPS technology, and the strong interagency partnership with the U.S. Department of State associated with it, has led to multiple impactful spinoff technologies that protect U.S. soldiers and civilians from firearms, projectiles and blasts. MPS technologies include Ready Armor Protection Instant Deployment, patented in 2020, and the Expedient Retrofit for Existing Buildings, patented in 2021.

 

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