Research News

U.S. Senate confirms Schmidt to lead operational testing and evaluation for the Department of Defense

Douglas Schmidt, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Computer Science, has been confirmed to become Director of Operational Test and Evaluation for the Department of Defense following a full vote by the U.S. Senate on Feb. 29, 2024.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 23, Schmidt said if confirmed that he’s ready to fulfill his duties.

“I’m committed to fostering robust collaborations with our research and engineering community, acquisition programs, armed services and international partners,” he told the committee. “I’m eager to fulfill my responsibilities by collaborating closely with key stakeholders, including Congress, the department, the services and industry partners.”

An internationally renowned computer scientist, Schmidt’s professional involvement with national security spans four decades, marked by extensive work in researching, developing and testing military systems.

“Professor Schmidt’s distinguished career of bold discovery and innovation at Vanderbilt will serve him and our nation well in his new role,” Chancellor Daniel Diermeier said. “His work, and his collaborations across sectors in forums like our Summit on Modern Conflict, make him especially qualified to help shift the nation’s defenses forward toward a greater focus on cyber conflict and digital innovation. I congratulate Professor Schmidt on this great honor and wish him every success in serving our country.”

Schmidt has particular expertise in the integration of software systems with hardware, mobile systems and other physical components. He is a senior researcher at the Vanderbilt Institute for Software Integrated Systems and a visiting scientist at the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

In his written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Schmidt emphasized the “pressing need” to shift from pursuing innovations in hardware-centric systems to focusing on a landscape defined by software, data and complex algorithms.

“Professor Schmidt is an accomplished computer scientist who possesses a successful record of translating research innovation into real-world results,” said Krishnendu Roy, Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Dean of the School of Engineering and University Distinguished Professor. “He has had a distinguished career in academia and government, especially in the defense sector. His selection for the role of DOT&E is an inspired choice and is another example of how Vanderbilt researchers are making a lasting societal impact for the United States and beyond. I congratulate him on this well-deserved honor.”

Schmidt’s experience includes evaluating software product lines for mission computing systems in military fighters and leading mission-critical technology projects for the Navy and Air Force as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. From 2010 to 2014, he served as vice chair of a study on cyber situational awareness for Air Force mission operations as a member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

Most recently, Schmidt led research and development efforts at Vanderbilt University and CMU/SEI focused on responsible application of generative augmented intelligence in automated programming and testing of defense acquisition systems.