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Research Jam

research jam jar 2013 Research Jam People's Choice Award winner for Most Votes-- Jessica Torrey, Materials Engineer, Materials Engineering and Research Laboratory, Technical Service Center.
Each year, the Science and Technology (S&T) Program sends a call to all Reclamation employees to submit research proposals that can help Reclamation more effectively manage water and power. Hundreds of proposals are submitted each year.

However, we have been concerned that many staff may be aware of problems or challenges that could be addressed through research, but they don't have time or the technical background to develop a research proposal. We wanted to provide these people an easy way to identify issues or ideas to our office without needing to submit a full proposal.

To meet this goal, the S&T Program held our second annual Research Jam to facilitate involvement and innovation from all Reclamation employees. From February 25, though March 15, 2013, all Reclamation employees were given access to a web site where they could quickly and simply submit ideas, could view other's suggestions, and could vote and comment on all ideas. The process used the same IdeaScale web service recently used by the White House to gather thousands of cost-saving ideas from Federal employees.

The online "jam" concept was popularized by IBM starting in 2001. IBM realizes that employees are their most valuable resource for ideas, and ideas often lead to innovation, research and development, and patents -- in other words, solutions for making things better, faster, and cheaper. Thus, every so often, IBM gets some of their 300,000+ employees together to "jam" -- or share ideas. This approach has helped IBM lead the world in patents for a record 20 years in a row as of January 2013.

We have started working with the submitters of the top ten vote-getting ideas (listed below) to help move their ideas forward. Using tablet computers in the field was the most popular idea, with 43 votes. This idea, submitted by Jessica Torey, received the "People's Choice Award" trophy.

Idea Votes
Use of Tablet Computers for Field and Laboratory Work 43
Material Compatibility Issues for Concrete Repair Materials 41
Mitigate Hard Mineral Scaling in Reclamation Facilities 31
Share Research Results--Don't Re-invent the Wheel 31
Develop Methods to Seal Leaking Contraction Joints in Dams 30
Off-Grid Power Sources for Cathodic Protection 29
Building Information Modeling (BIM) 27
Novel Electrodes for Soil Characterization 27
Impacts From Operational Releases to Populations at Risk 26
Mussels to Fuel 26

Many of the problems and issues identified during the Research Jam are potential targets for research proposals as part of our FY2013 Science and Technology Program call for proposals to all Reclamation employees.

Innovation is simple: pursue solutions that are better, faster, and cheaper than before -- whether it is something new, something old that is new again, or just something new to you or your organization. Research and science are catalysts for new ideas and positive risks, which are crucial to encouraging innovation and innovative culture.
-Jake Akervik, Communication and Information Systems Coordinator

Jam by the numbers:

This information was last updated on June 21, 2013
Contact the Research and Development Office with questions or comments about this page