I went back to Lawrence Livermore national laboratory again this week and this time I got to get a tour of the National Ignition Facility…aka the most powerful laser on earth. The simple scale of the facility is awe inspiring as is the science. We are talking about a laser capable of replicating the birth of a small star. Commissioned in 1999 the lab is a cutting edge facility but one that brings home the pace of innovation across the globe but particularly in a facility like this. One of the things we were shown was the the next generation laser. At a tenth the size of the current version it is capable of being loaded onto a semi truck rather than being housed in a massive facility. Looking back across time this “tiny” laser’s output would have required a mile long facility in the 1980s.
For myself and Andi the working with the lab to develop a next generation proposal system has been exciting because it has let us feel like we are a small part of helping deliver scientific benefits that a place like LLNL a is uniquely capable of providing to a broader audience and to ensuring that the best use of this limited resource is made in order to ensure that every shot (firing of the laser) counts. Working with a dedicated team within the lab we believe that the social capabilities of Salesforce a well as its flexibility will help the lab not only make tough decisions on how to expend resources but also enable outreach to a broader community of scientists and institutions in order to bring in proposals from around the world that ultimately push science farther, faster than ever before.
When you think about it for any institution the proposal management process is critical whether in the realm of academic research, as it pains to public sector contracting and in the everyday commercial contracting occurring in businesses large and small across this country. Casting a broader net means more competitive proposals, more ideas and if done correctly better capabilities to vet those proposals such that the broader reach doesn’t become overwhelming.
This was our last week at the lab on this project. I’ll miss the people and the atmosphere. It is truly a unique place that is is chasing answers to some of the most complex lines of scientific inquiry that exist today. Playing even a small role in that is something I will always remember and treasure.