Round Two for DARPAHigh?
DARPA is back with part two of MENTOR, the program that brings makerspaces —and the Pentagon— into high schools. In their own words:
"DARPA’s Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach Two (MENTOR2) program aims to improve defense readiness by improving the secondary school and post-secondary school education of those who will be called on to utilize, maintain, and adapt high technology systems in low technology environments. MENTOR2 will achieve this goal by developing and demonstrating new teaching tools and materials in the fields of electromechanical design and manufacturing. It is envisioned that project based curricula employing MENTOR2 design and prototyping tools can teach a deeper understanding of high technology systems, and better enable future competence in the maintenance and adaptation of such systems through the manufacture of as-designed components or the design and manufacture of new components."
No word yet on how the first round of MENTOR went. The past iteration of “DARPA High” created waves in the hacker world, perhaps most famously with Mitch Altman’s vocal opposition to military funding for hackers. At the time, Tim O’Reilly (whose organization Make Magazine and Makerfaire received funding) wrote that
No word at all about the children’s personal records that the Pentagon would presumably be able to scope. No clue if any of the students did ask questions about the funding or what the military does. One to keep a close eye on…
Made: Technology on Affluent Leisure Time (2012) - Garnet Hertz; via WMMNA
Dougherty says his inspiration is Alice Water’s Edible Schoolyard movement: create the space and the practice will follow.
Synthetic biology, as Darpa notes, has the potential to yield “new materials, novel capabilities, fuel and medicines” — everything from fuels to solar cells to vaccines could be produced by engineering different living cells. But the agency isn’t content to wait seven years for each new innovation. In fact, they want the capability for “on-demand production” of whatever bio-product suits the military’s immediate needs.
To do it, Darpa will need to revamp the process of bio-engineering — from the initial design of a new material, to its construction, to its subsequent efficacy evaluation. The starting point, and one that agency-funded researchers will have to create, is a library of “modular genetic parts”: Standardized biological units that can be assembled in different ways — like LEGO — to create different materials.
Once that library is created, the agency wants researchers to come up with a set of “parts, regulators, devices and circuits” that can reliably yield various genetic systems. After that, they’ll also need “test platforms” to quickly evaluate new bio-materials. Think of it as a biological assembly line: Products are designed, pieced together using standardized tools and techniques, and then tested for efficacy.
Trustifier: Future DARPApp?
If only we could claim we come up this stuff:
Image from the Trustifier corporation. ROFL.
This is only one apparition, a singular instance of a much larger effort by hackers to sell trust and security, including selling it to the Pentagon & DARPA: