ASURE: Higher-TRL and Specialized Research

ASU’s Security & Defense Systems Initiative is composed of:

Technology Readiness Levels


  • an on-campus component consisting principally of faculty working with students and postdoctoral researchers on basic research and early-stage applied research, and
  • an off-campus component called ASU Research Enterprise (ASURE) that consists of a professional staff of scientists and engineers conducting higher-TRL applied research and advanced technology development efforts, and that has the needed clearances and facilities to work at classified levels where this is required.

ASURE and its professional staff – with their higher-TRL research and development mission and classified capability – complement the traditional low-TRL unclassified mission of most university research environments. This enables end-to-end involvement by ASU and its collaboration partners in research and development efforts that span from early conceptual stages to advanced technology development, system development and demonstration, and where appropriate even to fielding and sustainment. ASU is thereby able to remain a reliable research and development partner even as its solutions move through TRLs beyond those that universities normally are involved in, rebalancing it own role and that of its partners along the way.

Research by the professional staff in ASURE is integrated with our on-campus research component to the greatest extent possible while maintaining the separation needed to protect government classified information and company proprietary information. Our professional research staff in ASURE is often able to work in collaborative teams with faculty members, students, and postdoctoral researchers where the nature of the research suggests productive outcomes from such interactions. Reachback into the technical depth reflected in our on-campus component adds to the rigor of work done in ASURE and enables ideation to find innovative solution approaches that might otherwise be difficult to obtain.

ASURE is not a simple add-on component to the traditional on-campus faculty-student-postdoctoral research model. Genuine intellectual exchange in both directions to the greatest extent possible benefits both the on- and off-campus research efforts. The increased operational awareness provided by the professional staff in ASURE also enhances the real-world relevance of the educational experience that ASU can make available to our students and postdoctoral researchers.

ASURE builds on ASU’s campus-wide facility clearance and access to an exceptionally large and capable specialized facility that enables work at the highest levels. This provides a nontraditional environment that preserves and enhances the essential basic research and education mission of the university, while enabling ASU to become far more broadly and deeply engaged in developing solutions to real-world aspects of the security and defense challenges that our society faces.

It also creates an environment that allows government and industry to far more easily access the breadth of technical expertise found in the largest single university in the U.S., and to engage and collaborate with university researchers in a higher-TRL and application-relevant setting than is possible at most other universities.