The ISN's mission is complex and difficult—and it won't be solved by cutting-edge nanoscience alone. MIT has two key partners who share not only a passion for the ISN mission, but responsbility for achieving it.
Army research partners are vital to the ISN Mission. They collaborate on basic and applied research, provide guidance on the Soldier relevancy of ISN projects, and participate in transitioning (i.e., technological maturation and scale-up of the outcomes of ISN basic research).
The ISN is sponsored through the U.S. Army Research Office (ARO), located in Durham, North Carolina. MIT scientists work closely with scientists from the ARO and other science and technology communities within the DoD to exchange ideas and share experience with what does and doesn't work. The Army also keeps the ISN in contact with the customer—the individual soldier. Several times a year, MIT researchers travel to Army bases to observe soldiers in training, talk with them one-on-one, and see how current equipment works. It's also a chance to get a first-hand taste of the soldier's challenges, by wearing bulky night-vision goggles or carrying a 40-pound rucksack for an hour.
Industry partners are critical to the ISN Mission, helping turn innovative results of basic research into real products and scale them up for affordable manufacture in industrial quantities. Membership in the ISN Industry Consortium is open to companies who provide a critical core competency for ISN research and an appropriate level of cost-sharing.
While the ISN’s first customer remains the Soldier, many research projects have broad appeal to not only the remainder of DoD but also other government agencies. The ISN has had substantial interactions and collaborations with a number of the Army’s sister services and other US government entities.