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Vital Infrastructure, Technology, And Logistics

  1. Mission Statement
  2. Personnel
  3. Affiliates
  4. Events

Mission Statement

The Vital Infrastructure, Technology, and Logistics (VITAL) Center is dedicated to fostering and supporting comprehensive supply chain security as an integral part of all major US industries. Secure and resilient critical infrastructures will help the US maintain a strong national defense. As part of this mission, the VITAL Center works to:

  • Assess the evolving strengths and weaknesses of our nation’s critical infrastructure systems and technologies, and the supply chains they depend on.

  • Advance knowledge of critical infrastructure and supply chain security challenges and solutions across the US Government and industry to include policy makers, the Department of Defense, and the manufacturing industrial base.

  • Bridge the gap between commercial and defense supply chain security practices.

  • Strengthen policy to ensure continued security of our nation’s critical infrastructure and supply chains.

Protecting Our Critical Infrastructures

US critical infrastructures encompass highly visible sectors like transportation, water, and agriculture as well as less conspicuous sectors like energy, finance, and information technology (IT). If any of these infrastructures were attacked, whether by hostile nation-states or by non-state actors, it would have major negative impacts on our national security and the economic well-being of our country. Even less nefarious disruptions to the supply chain, caused by inclement weather for example, are increasingly worrisome as the global economy becomes more intertwined and interdependent.

Due to the number, scale, and complexity of these sectors, no one entity can tackle the issue of critical infrastructure vulnerability alone. Both government and industry have a shared interest in the continued stability of domestic infrastructures and their global supply chains and are thus natural allies in the efforts to secure these systems. Through improved communication and strategic planning, industry and government entities can combine and coordinate efforts in comprehensively securing critical infrastructures.

The DCIP defines the following 16 sectors as critical based on their influence on the nation’s economic health and security: chemicals, commercial facilities, communications, manufacturing, dams, defense, emergency services, energy, finance, food and agriculture, government facilities, healthcare, information technology (IT), nuclear facilities, transportation, and water. The number of sectors considered vital to the US is simply too great to be managed by one office of the federal government, or even by the federal government alone. Taken together, the 16 critical sectors identified by the DoD account for thousands of companies, millions of jobs, and billions of dollars of revenue changing hands across the country. The only effective way to provide comprehensive critical infrastructure protection is through a coordinated effort, both among government agencies and between government and industry. The VITAL Center aims to bridge the gap between government and industry security efforts by connecting diverse stakeholders from both worlds, creating a community of interest to create more comprehensive mechanisms of action for critical infrastructure protection.

FritzeDr. Fritze was the Director of the Disruptive Electronics Division at the USC Information Sciences Institute. (2010-2015). He also held a Research Professor appointment in the USC Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering (Electrophysics).  His research interests at ISI included Trusted Electronics, CMOS Reliability & Robustness, Low power 3DIC enabled electronics and Rad-hard electronics.  He was a Program Manager at the DARPA Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) from 2006-2010.  While at DARPA, Dr. Fritze was responsible for Programs in the areas of 3D Integrated Circuits (3DIC), Steep-Subthreshold-slope Transistors (STEEP), Radiation Hardening by Design (RHBD), Carbon Electronics for RF Applications (CERA), Silicon-based RF (TEAM), Ultra-low power Digital (ESE), Highly regular designs (GRATE) and Leading edge foundry access (LEAP).

Prior to joining DARPA, Dr. Fritze was a staff member from 1995-2006 at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts, where he worked on fully-depleted silicon on insulator (FDSOI) technology development with an emphasis on novel devices. Particular interests included highly scaled, tunneling-based, and ultra-low power devices. Dr. Fritze also worked in the area of silicon-based integrated optics. Another research interest at Lincoln Laboratory was in the area of resolution-enhanced optical lithography and nanofabrication with particular emphasis on low volume technological solutions.

Dr. Fritze received a Ph.D. in Physics from Brown University in 1994, working in the area of compound semiconductor quantum well physics. He received a B.S. in Physics in 1984 from Lehigh University. Dr. Fritze is an elected member of Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Xi. He is a recipient of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service awarded in 2010.  He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and is active on the program committees of the EIPBN (3Beams, for which he served as Program Chair in 2012), GOMAC and IEEE S3S conferences. Dr. Fritze has published over 75 papers and articles in professional journals and holds several U.S. Patents.

syerspDr. Paul Syers joined the Potomac Institute in September 2015 as a Research Associate and CReST Fellow. His current projects focus on policies regulating corrosion and materials degradation and the activities of the Center for Revolutionary Scientific Thought (CReST).

Dr. Syers received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Maryland, having researched methods for improving the material quality of topological insulators. Prior to that, Paul received a B.S. In Physics from Emory University and an M. Phil from the University of Cambridge for research on high temperature superconductors.

JBechtelJoe Bechtel is a Research Assistant at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in the CEO’s Office. Joe Bechtel currently provides research and analytic support to guide discovery of innovative, non-traditional solutions and develop technology assessments for the Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO) in its mission to enable new, affordable capabilities. Joe organizes events, conferences, and discussions for RRTO at the Institute and at other venues, by interfacing and coordinating with government officials, venture capitalists, commercial leaders and academics. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Sociology & Anthropology from Towson University with a focus on Criminal Justice. As an intern at the Potomac Institute in 2014, Joe studied terrorism and counterterrorism subjects as well as attended conferences in the DC and Virginia area. His final project as an intern was on terrorism policy procedures inside a law enforcement agency. In his free time, he volunteers for the Bowie Boys & Girls Club.


indexErica Turner is a Research Intern in the Science and Technology Division. Erica is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland, where she studied French language and political science in the Honors College. She has previously worked in tech- and health-oriented organizations, most recently as an intern at a consulting firm for National Labs and before this as an intern at a global health NGO focusing on alcohol consumption. Born and raised in the DMV to a military family working in health and science professions, Erica has been influenced by S&T throughout her life and is looking forward to making a valuable contribution here at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. In her free time, Erica enjoys improving her French language skills and is currently starting to learn Spanish.

VITAL Affiliates coming soon

Travis Mosier, U.S. Department of Commerce - China’s Semiconductor Industry Policies

13 June 2017 – Mr. Travis Mosier is an international trade specialist at the U.S. Department of Commerce in the Office of Health and Information Technologies. Mr. Mosier researches and analyzes trade and investment issues affecting the U.S. semiconductor industry’s market access in China, and participates in negotiations with Chinese and other government officials on market access concerns and compliance. Mr. Mosier’s talk focused on China’s recent – and unprecedented – investments in its semiconductor industry. This included an overview of the global semiconductor market share and a breakdown of the semiconductor market. Mr. Mosier addressed the growth of the Chinese semiconductor industry, China’s semiconductor development plan, and recent Chinese semiconductor mergers and acquisitions activity. Concerns and challenges resulting from China’s recent semiconductor investments, as well as potential solutions, were highlighted in the discussion.

Janice Meraglia, Applied DNA Sciences - DNA-Based Authentication and Traceability

16 May 2017— Ms. Janice Meraglia is Vice President of Government and Military Programs at Applied DNA Sciences. She focuses on briefing federal agencies and leading industry associations to highlight the power and flexibility of solutions through SigNature® DNA, the core technology platform of Applied DNA Sciences. Applied DNA Sciences looks at ways of mitigating cyber-physical aspects of cyber-attacks through DNA taggant technologies. During her hardware symposium, Ms. Meraglia summarized the current products and capabilities that Applied DNA Sciences offers in providing reliable, accurate provenance and tracking tools for microelectronics components. Emphasis was placed on the technical advantages of using this DNA taggant technology in supply chain validation and authentication of microelectronics. Ms. Meraglia fielded a variety of questions focused on the technical components, the future of this technology, and government interaction with this industry.

Michael Liehr, SUNY Poly and AIM Photonics - Semiconductor Consortia

18 April 2017—Dr. Michael Liehr is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute for Manufacturing (AIM) of Integrated Photonics. He is also SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Vice President for Research and Operations Manager. AIM Photonics pursues a mission to establish a technology, business and education
framework for industry, government and academia to accelerate the transition of integrated photonic solutions from innovation to manufacturing-ready deployment in systems spanning commercial and defense applications. Dr. Liehr spoke on his experience in building positive partnerships between government, industry, and academia to accelerate technology transition. He summarized at a high level the current range of capabilities at the SUNY Poly site, the range of partnerships, agreements, and contracts that SUNY Poly operates with commercial and government entities, and shared his insights on lessons learned in managing AIM Photonics and running the research site in Albany. Dr. Liehr also answered questions focusing the future of SUNY Poly, the semiconductor industry, and government interaction with industry.

Bill Chappell, DARPA - A Technology Enabled New Trust Approach.

7 December 2016—Dr. William “Bill” Chappell is the Director of the Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) at the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA). Dr. Chappell has served as director of MTO since June 2014, and in that time, has focused the office on three key areas; ensuring unfettered use of the electromagnetic spectrum, building an alternative business model for acquiring advanced trusted microelectronics, and developing circuit architectures for next-generation machine learning. The MTO office also invests in compact microelectronic components to include microprocessors, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and photonic devices. In his talk, Dr. Chappell spoke about the evolving array of technologies for enhancing hardware security and trust. He also discussed MTO's role within DARPA, and current programs to ensure trusted and secure electronics.

Thomas Bergman, Battelle - This Is Battelle

19 October 2016—Mr. Thomas Bergman is a Program Manager in the Cyber Innovations business unit at Battelle, and is currently responsible for managing the development of Battelle Barricade. Mr. Bergman presented information on Battelle’s mission and history, and a product it has recently developed that has applications in testing chips for authenticity. Battelle has been developing and testing a technology to nondestructively classify electronic components as authentic or counterfeit the Barricade system. Currently, alternative effective detection methods require exhaustive testing of all component functionality, destructive analysis of test devices, or use of a specialized imaging technique. The Barricade technology developed at Battelle does not require integrated circuit design modifications, physical alterations to existing inventory, or any changes to electronic component manufacturing processes to perform the classification process. The technology uses a method that differentiates classes of devices from data acquired from their power consumption waveforms. The Barricade system is based on the concept of side channel power analysis, a technique that involves collecting unintentional or side channel emissions from a device. The collected data files are loaded into the Barricade classifier algorithm that performs the electronic component classification.

Paul Quintana, Microsemi - Microsemi Trusted FPGA Approach for Commercial Foundries

22 September 2016—Mr. Paul Quintana is the Director of Vertical Marketing for Defense, Security and Computing at the Microsemi Corporation. Paul Quintana spoke on Microsemi’s ongoing efforts to establish a supply chain flow for trusted FPGAs. In the past five years, Microsemi’s revenues have doubled and a significant portion of their business is in the Aerospace and Defense markets. Microsemi continues to be, however, a global company, sourcing a majority of their chips from UMC in Taiwan. Major points made during the lecture were the importance of trusted masks for Microsemi, as well as access to domestic fabrication facilities. Such concerns are becoming more important across multiple industries, since FPGAs are increasingly being embedded in different kinds of general CPU systems.

Paolo Gargini, Semi - Roadmap and Initiatives Past, Present and Future

8 June 2016—Mr. Paolo Gargini is the Chairman of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) at Semi as well as the head of the International EUV Initiative (IEUVI) and the International Consortia Cooperation Initiative (ICCI). His talk focused on the history and vision of the microelectronics over recent decades. He spent a long career at INTEL leading long-term R&D efforts, including their University funding activities. He also led the development of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), which since the mid-1990s has brought together representatives of every major global semiconductor company to plan R&D to continue driving the industry according to Moore’s Law. The last "conventional" ITRS Roadmap ended in 2013. It was realized that the future drivers will likely be the system companies looking for solutions for custom functionality. 3D technology (including heterogeneous integration) and programmable technology will be enabling players here. Based on his career, Gargini feels very strongly about the role of the USG in seeding pre-competitive longer term R&D. A major benefit is shortening the incubation time and lowering the perceived risk of new technologies. Industry is often reluctant to invest in research unless it is leveraged with other investments and they prefer to wait until something is proven to take it on for development. The IRDS “Roadmap 2.0” aligns with the new White House “National Strategic Computing Initiative” and Gargini expressed interest in working with that Initiative. He was not familiar with the Defense Department’s DIUX.

Robert Patti, Tezzaron Semiconductor

27 May 2016—Mr. Robert Patti is the Chief Technology Officer and Acting Vice President of Production at Tezzaron Semiconductor. Tezzaron Semiconductor is a leader in "More-than- Moore" technology development, and incorporates innovative solutions including 3D and 2.5D technology platforms to enable advanced performance. Tezzaron's primary product is 3D memory, which they use as a novel architecture enabler. Additionally, Novati Technologies, a wholly owned fabrication subsidiary of Tezzaron, has extensive experience with back-end-the-line processing, and offers split manufacturing for their customers. Mr. Patti’s presentation laid out the range of processes based on split fabrication in which his company specializes, and emphasized their advantages in providing trust and process diversity for the end user. A major takeaway from the presentation and resulting discussion is that a major way for adversaries to identify and exploit zero day threats is to obtain circuit design layouts of technologies, and that this is a real, existing threat. The talk also went into detail about how split fab processes provide many options for obfuscating circuit design and for testing the FEOL layers to guarantee they have not been tampered with.

Jonathan Graf, Graf Research - FPGA Trust: Threats, Methods, Metrics, and Optimization

2 May 2016—Mr. Jonathan Graf is the founder of Graf Research, a defense research and development organization. Graf Research company conducts research on DoD contracting, performs technology consulting, and develops technical training guides for external organizations. Mr. Graf gained experience in the realm of trust for FPGAs working on two DARPA programs (TRUST and IRIS) while at Luna Innovations and MacAuley Brown. The work entailed reverse engineering FPGA programming using the bitstream and minimal other information. The focus of the lecture and following discussion was the security of FPGAs for the DoD. As FPGAs solidify their ubiquity in DoD systems, ensuring their trustworthy operation is becoming a critical priority for DoD system designers. Hardware Trojans may enter the FPGA during the design cycle of the FPGA programming file, either via a direct manipulation of a design file, through a malicious EDA tool, or via modified 3rd-Party IP. Mr. Graf’s talk reviewed those entry points into the design, as well as a variety of methods that have been developed to detect the presence of FPGA trojans. Metrics for measuring the efficacy of those tools were also presented.

Michael Strizich, MicroNet Systems - State of the Art Reverse Engineering Challenges

23 March 2016—Mr. Michael Strizich is the President and CEO of MicroNet Solutions, Inc. Formed in 2013, MicroNet Solutions Inc was the R&D Division of its legacy company, Analytical Solutions Inc (ASI). MSI focuses on security analysis, Pix2Net Circuit Extraction Software, reverse engineering of complex integrated circuits, and anti-tamper and design analysis. The topic of the discussion was reverse engineering. Reverse engineering tools and software are becoming more sophisticated and advanced with time. Examples of future of state-of-the-art extraction tools used to either verify existing designs, or model unknown designs, were presented. Also included were examples of microcode extraction.

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The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is an independent, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit public policy research institute. The Institute identifies and aggressively shepherds discussion on key science and technology issues facing our society. From these discussions and forums, we develop meaningful science and technology policy options and ensure their implementation at the intersection of business and government.

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