AI and Autonomy Leader from DoD Visits UMN

Nine people stand side by side in business suits

Josh Dorr, Engineering Director of Advanced Sensors and Microsystems, Honeywell; Faisal Kaleem, Professor, Computer Science and Cybersecurity, Metro State University; Graham Candler, Professor, Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, UMN; Surya Iyer, President and COO, Polar Semiconductor; Congresswoman Betty McCollum; Ted Christopher, Founder, Verterra Energy; Dr. Kimberly A. Sablon; Shashank Priya, Vice President for Research and Innovation, UMN; David Bustamante Director of Engineering, PAR Systems.

On May 31, 2024, Dr. Kimberly Sablon, Principal Director for Trusted AI and Autonomy at the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) visited the University of Minnesota. Dr. Sablon leads and coordinates scientific and technological efforts to ensure Department of Defense (DoD) superiority in future cognitive autonomous systems and hierarchical networks related to dynamic AI systems.

Two people observe a robot
Dr. Sablon interacts with a robot in the UMN Robotics Lab.

Dr. Sablon met with robotics and AI researchers, toured the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute, and gave a lecture on her work titled “Trusted AI and Autonomy Roadmap - A holistic, system of  systems approach to development of resilient AI and autonomy.” She also met with local industries in the national security and automation space, including Innovative Design Labs, Emerging Concepts Laboratory, Anno.AI, and Lockheed Martin and participated in a roundtable with US Rep. Betty McCollum, ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, and leaders from Minnesota’s local high tech industry, including Polar Semiconductor, Metro State University, PAR Systems, Honeywell, and Verterra Energy. The discussions highlighted the growing national security enterprise in Minnesota.

At the roundtable, Dr. Sablon heard from leading hypersonics researcher, Prof. Graham Candler, about plans for new wind tunnel facilities to be built in Minnesota that will help advance aerospace flight capabilities, in addition to learning about local strengths in microelectronics, sensors and satellites, high-end manufacturing, renewable energy, and cybersecurity training. The roundtable discussion also highlighted the UMN efforts in building the research and innovation initiatives around these topical areas.

Dr. Sablon stands in front of a project screen, presenting
Dr. Sablon gives a presentation on her work at DoD.
Five people sitting at conference tables discussing
Dr. Sablon hears about cybersecurity workforce efforts at Metro State from Prof. Faisal Kaleem in a roundtable with people involved with Minnesota’s high tech industry. Also pictured are Josh Dorr with Honeywell, VPR Shashank Priya and Congresswoman Betty McCollum.

UMN researchers interested in learning more about potential DoD collaborations can reach out to the U’s national security research and innovation initiative at or (612) 625-3394.

The visit was organized by the Research and Innovation Office to showcase Minnesota research and industry strengths, and to pave the way for future collaborations with OUSD(R&E).