Natick, West Point continue collaborative research

NSRDEC’s Melvin Jee discusses the latest in shelter technologies for contingency basing with visitors from the United States Military Academy at West Point. The visit was hosted by NSRDEC’s Henry Girolamo (third from left). Girolamo is the driving force behind a partnership between NSRDEC and West Point to develop innovative Soldier technologies. (U.S. Army photo by David Kamm)

NSRDEC Public Affairs

NATICK, Mass. (Dec. 18, 2015) Henry Girolamo sees endless possibilities for developing new capabilities for the Soldier under the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center’s collaboration with the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Girolamo is the lead, Emerging Concepts & Technologies, Warfighter Directorate, at NSRDEC, and he is the driving force behind the partnership. He developed and implemented the collaboration, serves as the NSRDEC point of contact and continues to manage the effort, which was formalized in 2014 under a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU. The USMA key point of contact is Lt. Col. Phil Root with Lt. Col. Paul Evangelista serving as the alternate.

The three-year MOU involves joint research projects and the sharing of training sites, research staff, historical data, field equipment and facilities. At the end of each academic year, several NSRDEC technologies are deployed with cadets during USMA Cadet Leadership Development Training.

For the academic year 2015 to 2016, NSRDEC/USMA will continue research begun last year under the MOU in several areas, including shelter technologies; Soldier microclimate conditioning; biomechanics-focused load carriage solutions; and anthropometric female helmet fit analysis. The new academic year would also continue NSRDEC/USMA’s involvement with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Warrior Web program, which aims to develop a soft, lightweight under-suit that would protect against injury and reduce stress on joints. NSRDEC is working to ensure DARPA’s technology can be integrated into existing Soldier equipment.

For the academic year 2015–16, NSRDEC/USMA have initiated three new areas of research, including meteorological sensing that supports aerial delivery systems; rotor guards and landing chassis to improve durability and enable capabilities for the NSRDEC Soldier-Borne Sensor in micro-unmanned aerial vehicles; and enhancing the potential for vertical takeoff and landing of the platform for micro-unmanned aerial vehicle reconnaissance in subterranean tunnels.

“The NSRDEC-USMA collaboration will leave an indelible mark on twenty mechanical engineering cadets as they prepare to become lieutenants, as well as many more cadets throughout the Academy,” said Root, director, Center for Innovation and Engineering Department of Civil & Mechanical Engineering at USMA. “The ability and willingness for NSRDEC to propose and support the relevant engineering projects helps prepare cadets for the incredibly complex world they will face after graduation.”

NSRDEC/USMA West Point are working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Warrior Web program to ensure the technology can be integrated into existing Soldier equipment. The Warrior Web program aims to develop a soft, lightweight under-suit (pictured here) that would protect against injury and reduce stress on joints. The effort reflects just one of the collaboration areas being pursued by NSRDEC and West Point. Photo Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

“Working with USMA has been a great experience for both NSRDEC and the cadets that we’ve worked with,” said Melvin Jee, team leader of the Tactical Shelters Team, Expeditionary Basing and Collective Protection Directorate at NSRDEC. “It gives an opportunity for the cadets to influence the design/concepts of equipment they may use later on in their career, and it gives NSRDEC access to future Army doctrine at the early stages of development, as well as to fresh ideas. If the collaboration goes well, we’ll leave these future leaders with a positive view of NSRDEC, which will benefit the warfighters in the long run.”

“NSRDEC/USMA collaborations continue to be an excellent (return on investment) for both organizations by both exposing cadets to the RDT&E/acquisition side of the Army while also exposing future Army leaders to the importance of the NSRDEC mission and gaining a fresh set of eyes and support to a current technical challenging problem,” said Richard Benney, director of the Aerial Delivery Directorate at NSRDEC.

NSRDEC subject matter experts provide expertise and constructive guidance to USMA cadet teams on optimal research approaches that maximize beneficial technology solutions for Soldiers. Girolamo believes the research conducted at USMA complements NSRDEC research and may result in beneficial and innovative improvements to NSRDEC products.

“NSRDEC has made it a win-win where the Soldier research we have the USMA cadets perform is needed by the Army,” said Girolamo. “Where we have limited resources at NSRDEC, we align NSRDEC research needs with the USMA academic capability. NSRDEC subject matter experts provide guidance to the USMA cadets to maximize the operational utility of their research efforts, and by so doing, we actually aid in their capstone project success. NSRDEC simultaneously receives usable Soldier research. It’s a good return on investment.”

Editor’s note: The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

Originally published at on December 18, 2015.