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Research Jam

research jam jar
2014 Research Jam People's Choice Award winner for Most Votes-- Dr. Bobbi Jo Merten, a Coatings Specialist working in the Materials Engineering and Research Laboratory (MERL) in Reclamation’s Technical Service Center and NACE Coatings Tnspector Level 2-Certified, submitted the People's Choice winning idea: Life After Coal Tar Enamel – New Long-Term Protective Coatings.
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
Life After Coal Tar Enamel – New Long-Term Protective Coatings 30
Less Cracks, Bigger Placement – New Concrete Rules of Thumb 28
Petrographic Standard for Evaluating Filter Material for Potential of Promoting Bacterial Growth Resulting in Clogged Drains 28
lSolar Desalination 27
Passivated Coatings and Linings 26
Composite Materials 23
Develop GPS/GIS-Enabled Tablet Applications to Modernize Resources and Facility Condition Monitoring 23
Fiberglass Pipe 23
Nano Spider - Goat Concrete 21
Safety Accident Lessons Learned Database 21

Many of the problems and issues identified during the Research Jam are potential targets for research proposals as part of our FY2015 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 September 29, 2014
Contact the Research and Development Office with questions or comments about this page