Cadets Urged to Think Outside the Technology Box
Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder addresses cadets in Gillis Theater. -- VMI Photo by Kevin Remington.
LEXINGTON, Va., Feb. 18, 2013 – Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder
invited cadets to “stand up and make a difference” by contributing to the
futuristic yet realistic world of unmanned military technologies in a speech
given at VMI earlier today.
Klunder’s talk, entitled “Enabling Our Autonomous Future,”
was part of the H.B. Johnson Jr. ’26 Distinguished Lecture Series.
Klunder, who is chief of naval research at the Office of
Naval Research in Arlington, Va., began his remarks by eschewing the podium for
closer contact with his cadet audience.
Walking up the aisles of Gillis Theater, Klunder warmed to
his topic as he enthusiastically shared with the cadets the questions he once
asked midshipmen when he was commandant at the U.S. Naval Academy – “What is
going to happen today? If you’re called upon, are you going to show leadership?
Are you going to stand up and show honor? Are you going to stand up and make a
Now, Klunder explained, he asks those same questions of the
researchers and scientists he supervises at the Office of Naval Research, an
arm of the Department of Defense which conducts science and technology research
to benefit the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
The 1982 U.S. Naval Academy graduate noted that those
efforts to make a difference are desperately needed in a world in which IEDs –
improvised explosive devices – and WMDs – weapons of mass destruction – have
become part of the layman’s vocabulary. “The bad guys are getting pretty good
at their stuff and I hope you know that,” he remarked.
Weapons that deliver the maximum punch for the lowest cost,
and with the least risk of human life, are the wave of a future that is already
here, said Klunder.
As examples, Klunder showed a montage of images from
modern-day weaponry, ranging from Jeeps and Humvees operated by robots to
unmanned submarines used for mine sweeping to unmanned helicopters, and even a
drone which is scheduled to launch from an aircraft carrier for the first time
Those technologies, the rear admiral noted, stem from
innovative thinking. “When we put
soldiers, sailors, airmen out there in the field, we’ve got to make sure
they’re prepared. We’ve got to make sure they’ve got the best technology they
can, the most affordable technology they can use and it’s got to work really
well,” Klunder said.
As an example of outside the box thinking, Klunder spoke of
planes currently under development that can operate without access to a global
“I don’t want you coloring inside the lines all the time,” continued
Klunder, who has flown 45 different types of aircraft and attained 21 world
flying-records. His awards include the 1988 Hawkeye of the Year, the 1991 Test
Pilot of the Year and the 2002 George C. Marshall Statesman Award.
Klunder concluded his remarks with an appeal to cadets to
come and join the Office of Naval Research’s initiative to “color outside the
lines” in support of the nation’s military.
“I need great innovative thinkers like you. I need young people
that want to make a difference. If you are interested, I’ve got places with
internships doing really cool stuff,” he commented.
“If you can save one life – one Marine, one airman, one
soldier – you have made a difference.”