In this month’s "The Sounding Board," meet Paige George, who last month joined the Executive Board when she was named as the new Chair of the FLC’s Facilitate Committee. George, a Technology Transfer Manager for the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division, describes how being open to new opportunities has been a common theme in her career and her work with the FLC.
How did you get into the field of tech transfer?
From 2009 to 2017 I worked as a mechanical engineer focused on diving and life support systems at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division. During this time, we collaborated on diving technologies with multiple diving companies under Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs). Working with these companies and their subject matter experts, I learned so much about how these agreements could accelerate getting technologies into the hands of the warfighter through commercialization. In 2015 I attended my first FLC National Meeting and I was hooked! In 2017 I became the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Outreach Program manager, and I was able to apply that outreach experience as the FLC Southeast Regional Coordinator starting in 2019. I became the ORTA at my laboratory in 2021, and I am now the FLC Facilitate Committee Chair. It has been an exciting ride because I learn something new every day!
What’s it like to work at NSWC PCD?
Working at NSWC PCD has been amazing! During my early days as an engineer, I always carried a “go-bag” in my car because in the morning I could be at my desk working on a mechanical design or developing a test plan, while that afternoon I could be on a boat or testing at a dock with military divers. The best aspect of working at a Navy lab was that I could work hand in hand with the end users of the technologies I was helping to develop. Military divers are an incredible group of people. Their job can be so dangerous and so difficult. It felt good to be able to work alongside them and develop technologies that would make the critically important work they do easier and safer. Now, as the Technology Transfer Manager, I get to provide our scientists and engineers the tools they need to be successful through collaboration with entities outside of the government sphere.
What do you wish more people knew about the Facilitate Pillar?
When I think of the Facilitate Pillar, my first thought is always “creating connection.” Our goal is not to facilitate individual tech transfer interactions, but to create more opportunities for these interactions to occur through FLC engagement. We want to have a presence at engagement events including small business summits, technology conferences, state and local government programs, and any other type of setting that connects government with industry and/or academia. We also want to develop programming that shows prospective partners what federal laboratories are doing through our Member Connect series, Lab Showcases, and Tech Events. Being a member of the Executive Board is such an incredible privilege, and I look forward to representing the Facilitate Committee.
If you could go back in time 10 years and tell yourself something, what would you say?
I would tell myself to stop trying to stick so closely to my career plan. Being OK with change opens doors that you never thought would open for you. Throughout my career, I have never done the same thing day in and day out. I have traveled all over the U.S., became a scientific diver, earned a master's degree in STEM education, and now I work in technology transfer. These incredible opportunities materialized when I let go of my expectations and fears.
What aspect of being part of the Executive Board are you most looking forward to?
I am so excited to be able to learn from some of the best in the business! The mentors that I have gained through involvement with the FLC have enriched my career in ways I never thought possible. In the technology transfer world, it’s easy to feel alone because many of our offices are small—sometimes just one person. The FLC network has been imperative for the growth of technology transfer activity at my laboratory; assistance and guidance are always an email or a phone call away. And it’s not often that you find people from so many different backgrounds all in a room together with a common goal of leading the strategic direction of a consortium like the FLC.