2013 Laboratory Director of the Year Midwest

Award Year 

For five inspired years, Duane Embree redefined technology transfer at one of the nation’s most prolific research institutions, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane). Appointed Technical Director in May 2007, he quickly initiated changes with remarkable results, including notable increases in patent applications and Patent Licensing Agreements (PLAs), high-return collaborations with diverse external partners, and innovative outreach programs with local business and academic communities. When he retired in October 2012, his leadership (more) legacy included a highly productive, award-winning technology transfer team that continues to stimulate economic revitalization in the region and create model approaches to technology transfer success that are garnering national recognition.Examples of Embree-era technology transfer initiatives at NSWC Crane include: creation of popular “mining” events to engage outside experts in identifying lab inventions with commercial potential; unique partnerships with area universities to enlist graduate students in technology transfer activities; a growing lab presence in K–12 schools to mentor science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; and internal efforts to amplify technology transfer participation by NSWC Crane’s own inventive workforce.As the world’s third largest naval installation, the 100-square-mile NSWC Crane campus is the third largest employer in southern Indiana, infusing about $2 million daily into the area economy. NSWC Crane not only provides crucial jobs, but also supports private-sector businesses as both a direct customer and an incubator of intellectual property with marketplace potential. Under Embree’s direction, the laboratory expanded its already impressive role as a motive force in regional economic development and STEM education. When possible, Embree personally participated in technology transfer outreach, engaging the president of the University of Southern Indiana to establish mutually beneficial agreements and initiating agreements with two local partners, the Terre Haute Economic Development Corporation and the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation. He also hosted a university summit, attended by 14 universities and prominent state officials, to present shareable NSWC Crane assets and pertinent technology transfer mechanisms. As the public face of NSWC Crane’s technical prowess, Embree was an outspoken technology transfer advocate, appearing on television, radio, and other media to promote technology transfer and the lab’s commitment to it. (less)