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Energy Challenge in the Defense Department

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Speaker: Dr. Andrew Higier, Director of Energy Portfolio, Defense Innovation Unit

Abstract: The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) strengthens national security by accelerating the adoption of commercial technology throughout the military and bolstering our allied and national security innovation bases. DIU partners with organizations across the Department of Defense (DoD)to rapidly prototype and field dual-use capabilities that solve operational challenges at speed and scale. In partnership with our DoD partners, DIU awards scalable contracts to companies offering solutions to national security challenges across various technology areas. DIU helps minimize up-front costs for commercial tech companies interested in working with DoD while also helping our DoD partners move faster and more efficiently to adopt commercial solutions to solve DoD problems. Within DIU, the Energy Portfolio focuses on leveraging the commercial sector advancements to strengthen military installations' resilience and enhance operational energy capabilities.

The Energy Portfolio focuses on two key lines of effort which are:

  • Operational Energy: Enhancing the range, duration and efficiency of military platforms to optimize performance in contested environments and extreme conditions.  
  • Installation Energy: Optimizing energy generation, storage and delivery to ensure installation infrastructure is smart, secure, and efficient.

This is all facilitated by the fast-moving DIU Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) process and our Other Transaction Authority (OTA) contracting capabilities.

Biography: Dr. Andrew Higier serves as the Director of the Energy Portfolio at the Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). In this role, Dr. Higier supports the Energy Portfolio in delivering strategic energy capabilities to the military by accelerating the adoption of commercial technology and strengthening the national security innovation base. The Energy Portfolio is focused on two primary lines of effort: Installation Resilience and Operational Energy. 

Prior to joining DIU, Dr. Higier was the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense of Research and Engineering (OUSD R&E) Liaison Officer to U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM). He was responsible for developing, planning, and executing a vast Science and Technology (S&T) portfolio, including over ten projects and $100M in funding supporting the USSOUTHCOM Mission. 

Dr. Higier has spent over a decade focused on bringing innovative and game-changing technologies to the warfighter. He has extensive experience across the Department of Defense (DoD), including multiple positions in the U.S. Navy, USSOUTHCOM, and OUSD R&E, and diverse experience in private industry and academia. Dr. Higier began his time in the government as an Engineer at the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific. He was responsible for several energy-related projects, from basic research to demonstrations. In July 2015, Dr. Higier was selected as a Science Director for the Office of Naval Research Global in Singapore. In this role, he provided regional expertise in Power and Energy and worked closely with the Chief of Naval Research. He was responsible for discovering innovative research and introducing it to the Office of Naval Research and the broader Naval Research and Development Enterprise. 

Dr. Higier has over 15 years of experience in program development and management. He completed his Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering with a focus on Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells in 2001. Prior to joining the DoD, he worked at various private-sector small business startups. In 2010 Dr. Higier joined the Applied Research Center (ARC) of Florida International University, where he was a Research Scientist in charge of joint Renewable Energy projects with USSOUTHCOM. Later he served as a consultant at a Silicon Valley startup working on unique and innovative electrochemical systems. 

Dr. Higier holds a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering. He has authored a number of journal articles, has presented at a number of conferences across the globe, and also holds several patents. 

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