Powered by Talent: Joshua Zike, USCG

Joshua Zike is an active duty U.S. Coast Guard officer who serves as the senior service lead  to DIU and is a  program manager within the autonomy portfolio. Prior to joining DIU in the summer of 2023, he was the Commanding Officer of the USCG Cutter ELM (WLB 204), which is homeported in Astoria, Oregon, from 2020-2023. He is a career cutterman with the USCG and was the Commanding Officer of the of the USCGC NEAH BAY (WTGB 105) from 2014-2017, and has served onboard the USCGC BISCAYNE BAY (WTGB 104) and USCGC ASPEN (WLB 208). He is a 2005 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Why did you want to come to DIU?

I want to propel the U.S. Coast Guard and the military forward by leveraging the best-of-breed commercial dual-use technology to solve emerging capability and operational gaps. I am drawn to DIU’s mission and the opportunity to work with  non-traditional defense contractors and execute innovative prototype projects with a fast-paced team.

I’ve also found out that working with DIU meant working with a whole team of people looking for ways to get to yes - which is a big culture shift from previous experiences.  

What problem are you currently working to solve / what project?

The autonomy portfolio is working with the U.S. Navy to ensure they can autonomously monitor and secure  hundreds of miles of contested waterspace through the Production-Ready, Inexpensive, Maritime Expeditionary (PRIME) Small Unmanned Surface Vehicle (sUSV) and Collaborative Intercept Capability project.

Our AMERV project is supporting the USN's Explosive Ordnance Disposal  community, and I’m also assisting with a Wireless Crew project that is being led by Sam Amedia in DIU’s Human Systems portfolio with the Coast Guard as the sole mission partner.

What are you currently inspired by in your work at DIU? 

I'm driven by a desire to make things better for those out in the field, on the water, or in the skies. Service members face various operational challenges and difficulties that can be solved by existing commercial dual-use technology - and delivering these solutions to them motivates me to continue pushing forward every day.

What are you currently reading/ recommend - or - what podcast are you listening to/ recommend, and why? 

For anyone new to the innovation and technology space, the In-Q-Tel podcast is a great way to get  exposed to some emerging defense tech. From a broader leadership standpoint, I also listen to the Craig Groeschel Leadership podcast regularly, which helps keep me grounded. I'm currently reading "The End of the World is Just the Beginning" by Peter Zeihan and it's a very interesting perspective on the geopolitical shift that is occurring right now across the globe, and how the U.S.'s changing global maritime strategy has such a broad impact on everything.

What are you currently celebrating? 

We closed the solicitation for the PRIME sUSV project before the DIU Tech Summit: Deploying & Scaling Autonomy for Strategic Impact hosted at DIU Headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

A three year effort to update and align Coast Guard Other Transaction Authorities to be on par with the DOD, will be realized pending the the passing of a full year FY24 appropriations bill. Once this occurs, the CG is standing by to issue internal policy on executing OTs within the Coast Guard. Progress here has been the result of extensive effort with the CG's Legislative Affairs team and DIU’s prior CG liaison, Nordy, who laid out the groundwork to make this possible.