Improved batteries, SWIPES to lighten Soldiers’ load

 

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (May 7, 2012) — A Soldier treks through treacherous terrain in a dangerous combat zone with a rucksack filled with meals ready-to-eat, first-aid gear, weapons, ammunition, radios and batteries.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command is lightening the Soldier’s load by developing smaller and lighter batteries. Scientists and engineers are unburdening the Soldier, increasing maneuverability, reducing fatigue, and cutting time needed for battery re-charging.

Christopher Hurley, an electronics engineer with RDECOM’s Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center for six years, leads the battery development projects team.

“One of the major projects on the battery team is trying to reduce the logistics burden,” Hurley said. “We investigate state-of-the-art battery chemistries that will help us to decrease the Soldier load.”

HALF-SIZE BA-5590 BATTERY

Hurley and his colleagues have reduced the size and weight of the standard BA-5590 battery by half, but the performance and run time has remained the same. The Half-Size BA-5590 plugs into the same equipment, about 80 types of radios and robots, as the full-size version.

“The Soldier can still perform the same [mission] with half the weight and volume in batteries,” Hurley said. “It will lighten their load and increase their maneuverability so they have more freedom to get around on the battlefield.”

The research team accomplished the size and weight savings through improvements in the battery’s materials, he said. One of the battery chemistries under development is lithium-carbon monoflouride.

“A lot of the research is done on the materials. Once we identified a chemistry that has potential to lighten the Soldier load, a lot goes into it in terms of the raw materials — the cathode, anode, and energy-storage components that afford us a high-energy density battery,” Hurley said.

The Army has been working on the battery for five years, and it should be fielded to Soldiers in about a year, Hurley said.

POLYMER CONFORMAL BATTERY

As the Army transforms to meet changing battlefield threats, Soldiers need to be agile without carrying boxed-sized batteries around their bodies. CERDEC is partnering with RDECOM’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center to develop a 0.8 inch-thick battery that can be placed into a Soldier’s vest.

“We’re putting those same battery chemistries into a wearable battery configuration known as the Polymer Conformal Battery,” Hurley said. “The idea is to keep it close to the body so there are not a lot of projections from the body. When the Soldier is in a prone position or tight spaces, you don’t have huge batteries sticking out.

“The next step is to get it into an integrated, wearable vest system so that Soldiers can wear this battery to have it run to all of their equipment.”

SOLDIER WEARABLE INTEGRATED POWER SYSTEM

The Soldier Wearable Integrated Power System, known as SWIPES, supplies a main battery from a central location to power all end-items.

SWIPES places pouch-mounted chargers and power cables for batteries, GPS units, shot-detection systems and handheld communications into the vest. It allows for extended mission times without the need to of swap batteries or power sources by keeping devices charged at all times.

SWIPES won one of the top 10 U.S. Army Greatest Inventions in 2010.

“All of the cabling is routed through the different pockets for radios and equipment. The idea is to have this battery power all of the equipment,” Hurley said.

The Army Rapid Equipping Force and Project Manager Soldier Warrior have started field testing several hundred SWIPES units.

“The major benefit is the weight savings. For a typical 72-hour mission, a Soldier will save up to 12 pounds of batteries they don’t have to carry,” Hurley said.

Picatinny Arsenal employees expand support to New Jersey’s junior scientists

Symposium entrant Elizabeth Dente gives a presentation at the Monmouth Junior Science Symposium on her project,"Benzoin-Based Complex for Skin Repair." Below, listening to Dente's right is ARDEC Director Dr. Gerardo Melendez.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — In the months preceding their annual events, planners for the 2012 Rutgers University and Monmouth University junior science symposiums had every reason to be concerned.

Students at both symposiums submitted 30 percent more papers than the previous year and were concerned that they would “steal” from the small pool of Picatinny reviewers and that one or both symposiums would fall short of meeting the total demand of 192 papers, each requiring a minimum of two reviews.

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RDECOM senior NCO discusses support for Soldiers

Command Sgt. Maj. Lebert Beharie, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's senior noncommissioned officer, returned May 13 from a nine-day mission to Afghanistan.

Command Sgt. Maj. Lebert Beharie, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's senior noncommissioned officer, returned May 13 from a nine-day mission to Afghanistan.

 

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Command Sgt. Maj. Lebert Beharie assumed duties as the leader of U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s enlisted Soldiers March 16. He took over for Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, who served as RDECOM’s senior noncommissioned officer since 2007.

In an interview with RDECOM public affairs, Beharie discussed the role of the command’s enlisted Soldiers, the needs of Soldiers in theater, and how Army scientists and engineers will continue to provide the technological edge for its Soldiers.

What is your message to RDECOM’s enlisted Soldiers?

“Being the new sergeant major, I want to get to know who they are, what they do for the organization, and talk to them about their concerns. As a junior Soldier, I wanted to know that my leaders were not only going to give me a mission but care about me and care about what I care about.

I want to get to know them. We have great Warfighters at RDECOM. They are helping RDECOM become a better organization with better support to our Warfighters.”

How is your role different at RDECOM, where the workforce is predominantly civilian, compared with your previous assignments?

“You have to take a different approach when working with Department of the Army civilians. They don’t have any less love for the military. I find they are just as proactive and proud of their service to our Warfighters; it’s just a different uniform.

The things they want to do for Soldiers, they want to know that it matters. [It’s the] same thing with Soldiers in the field in an operational organization. We have a mission; we have our marching orders, we know what we need to do for the Army. With civilians, it’s exactly the same.

Everyone wants to do great and wonderful things and to know that we are doing that with one thing in mind — to make a nation stronger by making our Warfighters stronger.”

How do RDECOM’s enlisted Soldiers help the command empower, unburden, protect and sustain the Warfighter?

“The Soldiers of RDECOM are subject matter experts within their military occupation specialty, and they bring this professionalism with them to this command. They represent every Warfighter within our Army by using their knowledge to advise our scientists and engineers when they develop materiel solutions for the Army.

We are basically supporting ourselves. We are Warfighters. We come out of the war for a small bit to come to RDECOM and places like RDECOM that support the Warfighter. We bring that wealth of knowledge from the battlefield. We are the ones using all this technology being developed by RDECOM. Knowing and having a feel for that is invaluable to our scientists and engineers. Bringing that to the command is absolutely important.

The second part of that is bridging the connection between civilian scientists and engineers to the Warfighters out in the field. We know them. We were them. To bridge that gap, that is another thing we do well as Soldiers in RDECOM.”

What are the greatest technology needs Soldiers have in Afghanistan?

“We are there to protect the population. We are there to separate the enemy from the population and to give the population a fighting chance to develop into a great nation. That’s what they want.

What we need is the security to do that. Any technology that gives us the edge to be more secure to do our jobs better in and around the battlefield is what [Soldiers] want. Technology gives us that edge. We do it better than any other country in supporting our Warfighters to accomplish their mission.”

How can RDECOM’s scientists and engineers have the greatest impact on Soldiers?

“We have great systems in place within RDECOM. We have the RFAST-C [RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan] in theater. Our Warfighters go directly to the engineers and say, ‘I need this, and I want it to look like this.’ Our engineers at the PIF [Prototype Integration Facility] in theater can produce a materiel solution in very little time.

We have even bigger support mechanisms in place. We have our Science and Technology Assistance Teams. We know what [the Soldiers’] needs are because we are there with them as they go through the throes of battle.

We have reachback capabilities to our scientists who have a wider assortment of tools and materiel solutions to help our Warfighters accomplish their missions.”

What advice did Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin give you during your transition period?

“We knew each other before I was selected for this position. Once I knew I was coming here, we talked about what this command is, what [it] does, and how well it does what it has to do.

This doesn’t always happen in the military where you get time to transition. He and I had time to sit down, and I picked his brain. [We] traveled to see our RDECs [Research, Development and Engineering Centers] to talk to our folks. We have a great tradition at RDECOM of supporting the Warfighter. That’s exactly what I intend to do.”

How can RDECOM better inform Soldiers about in science and technology for Soldiers?

“That’s a continual process. We have a great network of people around the world looking for technology, trying to develop technology with partners in other nations. Just this morning, I had a theater update brief, where all of our folks in different countries dial-in to talk about the challenges that their supported elements are having and what RDECOM can do to help the Warfighters out there.

Our [public affairs office] tells the stories of our organization. [We] use all the multimedia sources to get the information out. I believe that becomes even more relevant for our Soldiers to know what we do, what we can provide, and how we can provide it. That’s the biggest challenge. We have to get after that every day.”

101st Airborne Soldiers help prepare for fielding of upgraded howitzer

Sgt. Jahrahrah Gousby (left) and Spc. Morris Morley were among members of the the 101st Airborne Division who tested the new digitized M119A2 howitzer technical manual during the second phase of the operator Logistics demonstration at Picatinny Arsenal.


PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division recently helped Picatinny Arsenal employees complete the second of three logistics phases required before the digitized M119A2 howitzer can be fielded to troops.

“The upgraded digitized M119A2 will be equipped with a digital fire control system that integrates an inertial navigation system with global positioning system technology that will give the weapon the ability to self locate and accurately place rounds on target,” explained Deborah Le Vitin, Digitized M119A2 105mm Howitzer logistics manager.

Back in November, Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division completed the first phase of the logistics testing, the Operator Logistics Demonstration.

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With combat experience, NCOs offer insight to engineers

Richard Cox, Harbor Defense Museum Curator, briefs Soldiers from the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command about cannon used in defense of New York harbor. The trip was part of professional development training.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Soldiers from the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command toured historic coastal defenses at the Verrazano Narrows March 22 as part of noncommissioned officer (NCO)professional development at Picatinny Arsenal from March 18-23.

Visiting Fort Hamilton, N.Y. on the east side of the narrows and Fort Wadsworth, N.Y. on the west, the NCOs saw historic fortifications, cannons and mortars that are now relics but had once been integral to state-of-the art systems designed to prevent enemy ships from attacking New York City.

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Picatinny engineer goes international for science

Picatinny Arsenal engineer Lauren Armstrong atop Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on the fifth day of a science exchange aimed at increasing the participation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — As one of only eight U.S. women scientists selected for a science exchange program with Brazil, Picatinny Arsenal engineer Lauren Armstrong is helping to promote greater participation by women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“Retention of women in advanced science is very low, both in the U.S. and Brazil,” Armstrong said.

“While the graduation rates for men and women in hard sciences are nearly equal, the gender gap is significant in upper-level positions.”

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Army undersecretary talks business

Undersecretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal (center) tours a facility at Picatinny Arsenal accompanied by Brig. Gen. Jonathan A. Maddox (right), Program Executive Officer for Ammunition and Picatinny Arsenal senior commander. (Photo by Todd Mozes)

Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. – While the public may associate the U.S. Army with Soldiers and weapons on the battlefield, there is also an “institutional” Army that has functions similar to those of large corporations in the private sector, a top Army official told a business group here April 2.

Speaking before the Morristown Chamber of Commerce, Undersecretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal said the institutional or “business side” of the Army was responsible for the training, recruiting, staffing, equipping and sustaining of the Army forces.

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Robotics competitions promote science education for students

By Ed Lopez

A team from Newton High School in Sussex County, N.J., controls its robot while competing in the FIRST 2010 International Finals in Atlanta. FIRST means "For Inspiration and recognition of science and technology."

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. – It is often said that the difference between men and boys is the cost of their toys.

An organization called “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” (FIRST) allows them to play together.

In fact it encourages not only men and boys–but also girls and women –to join in the same activities.

FIRST exists to encourage students from many nations to experience technology and engineering through competitive robotics challenges at several levels.

Personnel at Picatinny Arsenal are involved in advancing the learning and cooperation that the program fosters, and in the process promoting education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

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‘Carl Gustaf’ weapon extends Soldiers’ lethal reach

By Eric Kowal

Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division along with members of the New Equipment Training Team pose for a photo with a few Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon Systems in Afghanistan in October.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. – With the need for Soldiers in Afghanistan to engage the enemy at longer distances, Picatinny Arsenal has completed an initial training and fielding of a weapon for traditional Army units previously used only by special operations commands.

The Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System, or MAAWS, also known as the M3 Carl Gustaf, has been in the United States Special Operations Command inventory since 1991.

However, the unique capabilities of both the system and its ammo led to a forward operational assessment, known as a FOA.

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Married Army scientists bolster biological-threat detection

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A married couple, both U.S. Army research biologists, is working together to improve Soldiers’ ability to detect, identify and protect against potentially lethal biological threat agents.

RESEARCH FOR IMPROVED PROTECTION

Jody and Mark Gostomski’s research at Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, or ECBC, helps the Soldier defend against hazards in the field.

Mark works with dangerous organisms in ECBC’s Biosafety Level 3,. or BSL-3, laboratory, which is one of 45 in the country. He dons sophisticated protective equipment in highly controlled lab conditions to prepare the Army for worst-case biowarfare scenarios.

“We’re dressed head to foot in a Tyvek suit. We have a powered air-purifying respirator,” he said. “Everything we do is double-gloved. BSL-3 organisms are live, and they are higher risk.

“A requirement for Biosafety Level 3 is at least the opportunity to be vaccinated against different organisms — hepatitis, anthrax, botulism.”

Mark is researching the validation of a DNA extraction kit that will replace two kits, which will help streamline the bio detection process.

Jody manages a project to supply genomic material for the Critical Reagents Program. Her role in CRP is to provide high-quality and validated reference materials for use in the development and optimization of biological-detection technologies.

She plans laboratory activities, conducts quality control analysis on the material, and interacts with external agencies.

“It shows how collaboration among members of different branches really comes together and makes for a better product for the customer. For this project, we grow and isolate materials in the laboratory, at both the Biosafety Levels 2 and 3,” she said.

FOCUSED ON THE SOLDIER

Mark and Jody say that while they are focused on their daily research in the laboratory, it is imperative to remember the end-users — Soldiers.

“It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. We do our job, and a lot of times we don’t think about who it impacts,” Mark said. “The work we do is ultimately for the Soldier.”

“The project I’m working on will help the Soldiers rapidly identify biothreat agents using the Joint Biological Agent Identification and Identification System,” he said. “They can find a sample in the field [and] process it through this kit in a matter of minutes. Within an hour, they have their data.”

Jody echoed Mark’s focus on empowering and protecting the Soldiers and Army civilians who will rely on the equipment’s scientific foundation during a mission. She helped train members of the 20th Support Command and CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives) Analytical and Remediation Activity.

“It’s easy to forget how your job impacts the warfighter,” Jody said. “When you’re in the lab in your own little space, it’s hard to see how that has a profound impact on the overall mission.

“I’ve had the opportunity to train mobile-lab users who go into the field. They may or may not be Soldiers, but they’re on a mission to collect samples and ultimately protect against any type of biowarfare agent.”

Jody said the opportunity to interact with end-users has expanded her understanding of the mission.

“I got to step outside of my laboratory setting and take the expertise and knowledge that I learned by working with these biological platforms [to] stand in front of a room of physical scientists and show them how to use these technologies,” she said.

BUILDING A RELATIONSHIP

The couple met in 2004 when Jody joined ECBC after graduating with a bachelor of science in biology from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. They both work for the BioSensors Branch within the BioSciences Division.

Jody said that Mark served as one of her mentors. He started working for ECBC 13 years ago while attending Towson University; he graduated in 2003 with a bachelor of science in biology.

“We really got to know each other throughout the course of five years of working together. We built a very strong friendship, both inside and outside of work,” Jody said.

They married in May 2011.

“What I really like about working with Mark is the reason that he and I became such good friends before we got married,” Jody said. “He is just a great sounding board. He is always the person I would go to when I had issues in the laboratory.

“If I had questions or needed help troubleshooting something, he was always my go-to guy. He always resolved my problems.”

INVESTIGATING SCIENCE OUTSIDE CLASSROOM

Jody and Mark encourage young students to explore science outside the classroom to see whether it would be a strong career fit. They are both studying for master’s degrees in biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University.

“As I got to college and had more experience in the laboratory, it was interesting to take what you were learning in the textbook and see that come to life through experiments in the laboratory,” Jody said. “I liked how hands-on it could be.

“If you have an interest in a science or engineering field, take every opportunity to become as exposed to those fields as you can with an internship at the college level or a shadowing experience in high school. Do something to get away from the textbook and actually get into the field where they’re using the technologies that you’re learning about,” she added.

Baltimore students discover Army technology

 

BALTIMORE — The inquisitive minds of about 300 local students examined, inspected and explored the science and engineering that supports U.S. Army Soldiers.

During the Innovative STEM Conference, the 2012 Maryland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium’s first event over three days, Aberdeen Proving Ground research and development organizations displayed their contributions to America’s Soldiers.

Morgan State University hosted the expo March 8 at its Hill Field House.

Carl White, associate dean of MSU’s School of Engineering, said the event is an important step in showing students how their academic achievement is critical to the country’s future.

“It’s really important for these kids to understand that the future of the country relies on them. Technology is what drives our country,” White said. “For us to be on the top and be competitive, we have to get these kids engaged early in math, science and engineering.”

White said that MSU invests heavily in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, outreach efforts in 12 Baltimore high schools through after-school programs and mentoring.

Army scientists showed students how they use the principles in STEM courses — math, physics, biology, chemistry, computer science — to design, build and test everything that Soldiers will need for a mission. They displayed protective masks and vests, helmets, armor, night-vision devices, power sources and battery chargers.

Lt. Col. Quentin Smith, with U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, leads a project for network modernization. He said the military will depend on today’s students to build future high-tech equipment for America’s defense.

“The Army has to invest in science and technology,” Smith said. “We have to invest in the education of our young people to pursue these technical professions because our future relies on it.

“To be able to build out the new network architecture and have the force of the future, it’s primarily dependent on the younger generation having a passion for mathematics and science to develop and mature the technologies that are going to be required.”

Joseph Bryant, a senior at Reginald F. Lewis High School of Business and Law in Baltimore, plans to study business management at Coppin State University or enlist in the Army.

“I’ve learned that math and science apply to everything in life. It applies to the Army. It applies to getting a job in the future. It applies to everything you could ever do,” Bryant said.

White said he hoped to demonstrate to students that while they are the consumers of today’s electronics, cell phones and computers, they can be the technology innovators of tomorrow by pursuing STEM fields.

“The benefit of this is to expose [students] early to all the different types of technology. It’s to let them interact and engage, touch and feel the technology,” White said. “They can understand that one day they can be the inventors, engineers, mathematicians or scientists that produce this technology.”

Army exhibitors at the expo included eCYBERMISSION, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, Army Research Laboratory, CERDEC, Aberdeen Test Center and APG Veterinary Clinic.

Army engineer analyzes potential hazards to ensure safety

 

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army Soldiers and civilians investigate buried munitions and suspected chemical or biological agents to ensure safe operations in the field. To strengthen their protection, engineers such as Ricardo Anderson scrutinize military equipment and programs for potential hazards.

Anderson, a systems safety engineer with Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, works to mitigate these possible dangers.

‘PICK APART THE DESIGNS’

Anderson, who has worked in ECBC’s Safety and Health Office for a year and five months, reviews several aspects of a program — standard operating procedures, safety briefings, personal protective equipment, personnel accountability — to ensure guidelines are followed.

“For the protective equipment, it has to go through a design analysis,” Anderson said. “My role is to pick apart the designs and make sure they are safe and within the restrictions of Army regulations.

“With getting rid of munitions, my role is to travel with the group and make sure we’re doing it in a safe manner. I give safety briefs in the morning to make sure everyone is familiar with the hazards that we have on site. When we get rid of the munitions, we have accountability for everyone.”

Anderson works with the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, as well as defense contractors, in field testing protective equipment. His projects include protective suits, breathing respirators and vehicle fire-suppression systems.

“I work with people from two-star generals to second-year interns, which mean they have a very wide base of knowledge so you can learn and also teach at the same time,” he said. “It affords me the opportunity to work with a variety of people and projects.”

ADDING AN ENGINEERING PERSPECTIVE TO SAFETY

Anderson earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Drexel University. He said his background allows him to approach potential hazards from a scientific perspective in ECBC’s Safety and Health Office.

“My education allows me to take a problem such as a hazard in a program and analyze it from an engineering point of view,” Anderson said. “It gives me a solid background in problem solving.

“In the Safety and Health Office, we suggest design options or things that the engineers should take into consideration. I would like to get into the actual design process.”

‘SCIENCE WAS A NATURAL FIT’

Anderson said his passion for science grew from his interest in taking things apart and discovering how and why they work.

“Science was a natural fit,” he said. “In middle school, the teacher put alcohol on his hand, [he] lit his hand on fire, but his hand didn’t burn. It’s basic, but it’s something that you remember. It piqued my interest in science.”

Anderson learned about opportunities with the Army and ECBC after attending a career fair at Drexel in 2009. Because he did not have a background in safety, he has taken six classes and trainings to complement his engineering education for his current role.

“ECBC is a great place to learn as young engineer. It allows you to be exposed to a lot of different things even if you do not know what field you want to get into. ECBC lets you touch a lot of different groups,” he said.

Army scientist shields Soldiers from chemical agents

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — To shield American Soldiers from emerging chemical threats in combat, the U.S. Army turns to scientists such as Frederick Cox and his team at Edgewood Chemical Biological Center.

Cox, branch chief of ECBC’s Chemical, Biological and Radiological Filtration Group, manages 25 scientists who are entrusted with filters that protect Warfighters and civilians from potentially dangerous airborne chemicals and biological hazards.

LESSENING THE BURDEN

“From a Soldier’s perspective, the most important aspect of the filters is the total burden to them. [It’s the] weight, size and bulk,” Cox said.

Cox and his colleagues examine each aspect in military filters. This attention to detail enables Soldiers to overcome the challenges associated with completing a mission in a contaminated area.

“Can [Soldiers] fire a rifle with a mask filter up against the stock of that rifle? Seemingly little things can go a long way,” Cox said. “Also, can we make it last longer? Every filter has a life. If you’re in a contaminated environment, you want to keep that life as long as possible so you don’t have to change it out.

“Even incremental improvements can lessen the burden on the Soldier. A quarter-inch difference in diameter allows you to sight your gun better.”

RESPONDING TO COMBAT REQUIREMENTS

ECBC designs filtration systems to protect Soldiers, as well as buildings and armored vehicles for military services and government agencies, Cox said. Army scientists must be ready to respond immediately to concerns from theater with answers or solutions.

“When we get a call from a commander in the field who says, ‘We have encountered this threat. Are we protected? We have this problem with this system. Can you design something that will eliminate the contaminant or threat in that system?’ We’re able to answer them directly, ‘Yes, you’re protected.’ Or [we] come up with a system, test it, and deliver it. That’s definitely the most satisfying,” he said.

Cox said he and his fellow scientists take their responsibility seriously because they handle some of the most toxic substances in the world, and any mistake can be lethal.

“When [the military places technology] into a fielded item, everything that might go wrong we’ve explored. We’ve pushed the technology to the limits so they function at an optimal level,” Cox said.

“We feel a certain responsibility working on chemical protection. We’re responsible to the end user — the Soldier in the field using the mask. When we see a problem in a filter, we go the extra mile to make sure we eliminate it or find out what the root cause is. That touches everyone on the team,” he said.

THREATS IN THEATER

America’s decade at war in the Middle East brought unexpected challenges to ECBC’s scientists, Cox said. Instead of sophisticated chemical-weapon systems, Soldiers were confronted with small, concealed caches.

“One issue that we’ve had [in Afghanistan is] clandestine [drug] laboratories. [Soldiers] would encounter a totally different class of chemicals than you would expect for chemical warfare agents,” Cox said. “They’re not something we’re normally concerned with, but that’s something that Soldiers were encountering.

“Another example is chlorine. Early in the Iraq war, there were improvised explosives with chlorine. That crystallized an effort here working with the Joint Program Manager for Protection to ensure that our filters would protect against it.”

‘REAP THE REWARDS’

Cox, who has worked for three years at ECBC’s Research and Technology Directorate, earned a bachelor of science in chemistry from Loyola University and a doctorate in analytical chemistry from the University of Delaware. He worked for defense contractor Battelle for six years before joining ECBC.

“For a student interested in science, engineering or technology field, my advice would be to pursue it all the way through. The road from high school to college to graduate school is long.

Eventually, you’ll be able to point to something and say, ‘I had a hand in that. I was the one responsible for building that.’ You’ll be able to reap the rewards of what you’ve been after,” Cox said.

eCYBERMISSION students forge a path to White House

WASHINGTON — Seven ninth-graders from the U.S. Army’s eCYBERMISSION program converged Feb. 6-7 to showcase their budding scientific curiosity for President Obama.

“The young people I met today, the young people behind me — you guys inspire me,” Obama said, according to whitehouse.gov. “It’s young people like you that make me so confident that America’s best days are still to come.”

About 100 students from across the country displayed their research at the second White House Science Fair as part of the president’s initiatives to improve America’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics performance. Obama hosted the first fair in late 2010.

REGIONAL WINNERS HEAD TO NATION’S CAPITAL

Regional winners Team Charger 4 from Providence Day School in Charlotte, N.C., and Team Dr. MED from the STEM Academy at Robert E. Lee High School in San Antonio anxiously prepared their exhibits Feb. 6 in the East Room.

Emily Ashkin, Matthew Howard and Alexander Roupas comprise Team Charger 4. Jocelyn Hernandez, Ricardo Rodriguez, Nathaly Salazar and Carlos Zapata make up Team Dr. MED.

“I thought my teacher was kidding. I immediately started crying because it’s such an honor to be here. My exact thoughts were, ‘I’m stepping where the president has stepped,’ ” said Ashkin, explaining her reaction to the White House invitation. She is planning a career in medical research.

STUDENTS AIM TO IMPROVE THEIR COMMUNITIES

eCYBERMISSION is a free, Web-based STEM competition for sixth- through ninth-graders where teams compete for state, regional and national awards while working to solve problems in their community. The U.S. Army sponsors the competition.

Students identifying a scientific problem and researching a solution are core aspects of eCYBERMISSION.

Salazar, who hopes to become a neurosurgeon, and her teammates investigated the improper disposal of medications in San Antonio.

“Our project was about the disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals and how it affects our environment,” Salazar said. “We need to promote public awareness to prevent this from hurting future generations and our environment.”

The team concluded that the introduction of pharmaceuticals have an impact on the pH, alkalinity, hardness, nitrites and nitrates in water sources, resulting in negative implications for the ecology of Edwards Aquifer.

“I have learned that anyone can make a difference in our nation,” said Hernandez, who plans a career in biomedical advocacy. “We have science, technology, engineering and math subjects to give us the opportunity to solve the problems in our communities.”

Team Charger 4 created an inexpensive and easily accessible way to improve unsanitary water conditions in underdeveloped countries. The team concocted a solution of unsanitary water to test a water purification system using reverse osmosis.

“It’s our national duty to forge ahead in STEM education. It’s an honor to be a part of this program,” Ashkin said.

ARMY ADVOCATES STEM EDUCATION

Jeff Singleton, the director of basic research, lab management and educational outreach for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, hosted the students with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Singleton lauded the eCYBERMISSION participants for their commitment to STEM education.
“What are the strengths of the nation? It’s always been ingenuity. Math and science are big drivers behind that,” Singleton said. “Where do you create new products? How do you create new ideas?”

The nation depends on aspiring, talented scientists and engineers to continue the work of previous generations, Singleton said.

“We focus on our educational outreach activities to help build this talent pool,” Singleton said. “We want our homegrown talent to be capable to provide for the next generations. It’s important to the president; that’s why he’s holding this science fair at the White House.”

PRESIDENT RECOGNIZES STUDENTS’ ACHIEVEMENTS

Obama said that a robust STEM workforce is vital to continuing America’s role as a technical innovator, as well as the country’s economic future.

“When students excel in math and science, they help America compete for the jobs and industries of the future. That’s why I’m proud to celebrate outstanding students at the White House Science Fair, and to announce new steps my administration and its partners are taking to help more young people succeed in these critical subjects,” Obama said.

Army engineer protects Soldiers from chemical threats

Nicole Au, a civilian chemical engineer with Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, performs checks on a Automatic Chemical Agent Detector Alarm Improved Chemical Agent Monitor at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — A U.S. Army engineer from APG is enabling American Soldiers to detect and defeat their adversaries’ arsenal of chemical agents.

Nichole Au, a civilian chemical engineer with Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, and her colleagues travel to military installations across the United States to field, test, maintain and repair chemical detectors for all services.

“[I] get to interact with Soldiers and see the efforts of [my] work immediately,” Au said. “[Soldiers] come to you to fix something so they can use it right away. What I’m doing helps keep Soldiers safe. It’s really gratifying.

“You don’t always get to see immediately the effects that you have on people. That’s one of the best things about going into the field.”

BOLSTERING SOLDIER PROTECTION

Au has worked for ECBC’s Detection Engineering Branch for two-and-a-half years. She works on equipment such as the Automatic Chemical Agent Detector Alarm and Improved Chemical Agent Monitor that warn the device’s user of dangerous substances, including nerve and blister agents that can be lethal.

The branch works to ensure the technology is ready to meet the demands and challenges associated with military use.

“For detectors used by the military, there are a lot of requirements to meet. They have to be able to withstand the coldest temperatures in Alaska and the deserts in Texas,” she said. “They have to withstand drop tests [and being] thrown in the back of a truck.”

Au said one of her job’s greatest benefits is being able to use her education and expertise to help Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors be better prepared for missions in potentially dangerous environments. She has traveled frequently to Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Hood, Texas; and Fort Drum, N.Y.

“It’s great to relieve the Soldier of the burden of having to figure out how to fix an item themselves. It is a specialty,” Au said. “We go out to save them time and burden.

“When the Soldiers get back their equipment, they are appreciative. Sometimes they’ll have a suggestion. ‘Why can’t this bag be the same? Why can’t we use the same battery? Why can’t we use rechargeable batteries?’ ”

Au said the face-to-face interaction with end users allows her to more thoroughly explain the devices’ intricacies. She is also able to provide further technical advice and training to the Soldiers who will maintain the equipment in the field.

DEVELOPING STRONG PARTNERSHIPS

An important part of ECBC’s mission is partnering with its military and civilian counterparts to share its expertise in chemical and biological threats, Au said.

In additional to maintenance support, Au’s branch provides engineering and technical support for Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command. ECBC has also provided training and fielded detectors to support the Joint Project Manager Guardian, Product Manager Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Installation Protection Program. Additional programs include program management to test detectors, both developmental and fielded items, for civilian and military use.

“It’s a new direction that we’ve had to adapt to. There’s an increased demand for help in this area,” Au said. “[The Army has] a long history of chemical and biological defense. Since 9/11, we’ve had to step up in the civilian arena for first responders.”

A PASSION FOR SCIENCE

Au participated in an engineering magnet program during high school and then earned bachelor and master of science degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. She said she developed her interest in chemistry and engineering from her family.

“I was inspired by my dad. He’s an electrical engineer. There are a lot of engineers in the family. I started early in science and math. My dad was always getting me to practice math problems and chemistry,” Au said.

Au encourages young students to pursue science because of the potential benefits to society.

“We need engineers and scientists. There are so many problems in the world, and I think one of the best things about being an engineer is working on a team to solve those problems. If we can have more people working to solve those problems, we could set ourselves up as a country to be a better place,” Au said.

ECBC attracts talented STEM professionals, MUSIP students

Samantha Bahre, MUSIP student and former Joppatowne High School graduate, conducted real-world analysis of samples in the Center’s Environmental Monitoring Laboratory. U.S. Army photo by Jennifer Carroll, U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center

Samantha Bahre, MUSIP student and former Joppatowne High School graduate, conducted real-world analysis of samples in the Center’s Environmental Monitoring Laboratory. U.S. Army photo by Jennifer Carroll, U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center

ECBC arms students with hands-on skills for future science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers during its Minority Undergraduate Summer Internship Program (MUSIP)

Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. ─ The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), also known as the premier national resource for chemical and biological defense, recently celebrated the successful completion of research projects conducted by ten students during this year’s ten-week MUSIP initiative.

For the third consecutive year, ECBC’s Workforce Management Office and Diversity Advisory Committee have collaborated with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s Minority College Relations Program to select highly skilled engineering, biology and chemistry students to participate in the program.

“MUSIP has proven to be a valuable opportunity for both participating students and the Center,” said the ECBC’s MUSIP Coordinator Diane Bratton. “For the first time in 2011, we hired students as temporary government employees through the Student Temporary Employment Program, also known as STEP. And, some of our mentors at ECBC plan to bring MUSIP alumni back as STEP students this fall and during the holiday break.”

Supported by the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education, ECBC established MUSIP in 2009, aiming to provide underrepresented minority undergraduates with the opportunity to enhance their education with relevant experiences in the science and engineering field.

Working with world-class subject matter experts on challenging research projects allowed sophomores and juniors from colleges across Maryland to develop cutting-edge solutions that help keep the warfighter and our nation safe.

“The project that the MUSIP students conducted in support of our team this summer has been beneficial to all involved,” said ECBC Chemist John Schwarz. “While gaining valuable hands-on and analytical experience in the laboratory, they produced real-world data to help improve our quality processes.”

Looking to save the Center time and reduce costs, MUSIP students collected and evaluated data identifying ways to improve processes and technologies that help counter potential biological and chemical threats.

One of this year’s MUSIP students from UMBC and former Joppatowne High School graduate, Samantha Bahre, partnered with Jenny Rendon, sophomore at Old Dominion University, to support the Center’s Environmental Monitoring Laboratory (EML) team.

In an effort to determine an acceptable expiration date for quality process (QP) samples, they analyzed the performance recovery rates of chemical warfare materials in three sets of aspirated and non-aspirated air monitoring samples.

“With holding periods ranging from one to ten days, samples that were spiked with warfare agents did not reveal a noticeable decrease in analyte recovery,” Bahre explained. “Therefore, we concluded that it would definitely be worthwhile to collect further data in support of extending the expiration date of air monitoring samples from 3 to at least 5 days.”

Bahre and Rendon have consolidated their data, methods and results in a technical report to facilitate ongoing research in this field. Based on their findings, quality processes could potentially be improved in the EML by extending the expiration date of quality process samples. They would be able to (1) spike and sample QPs over holiday weekends, (2) spike and send QPs to remote monitoring sites without compromising integrity of QPs and (3) send samples with a lower urgency.

“The hands-on experience in the lab was extremely valuable and enabled me to learn so much more than only in the classroom,” Bahre added. “I am very glad about the opportunity I was given to work with the EML team at ECBC.”

As part of the MUSIP program, the group of aspiring scientists and engineers presented their project results to senior leaders at ECBC and showcased their accomplishments to the Center’s workforce members during a poster session.

“I was truly impressed with the problem-solving skills that MUSIP students have demonstrated during their time at ECBC over the course of the past ten weeks,” said the Center’s Technical Director Joseph Wienand. “The depth and breadth of their projects clearly reflected their ability to think innovatively, a skill inherent in our workforce.”

“I can speak on behalf of my colleagues when saying that we are very fortunate to have such talented and ambitious students support us in achieving our mission,” he added.

This year’s MUSIP students conducted the following research and development projects, in support of the Nation’s defense:

• ‘Characterization of a Confidence Checker Device’ — Nishit Patel from UMBC, mentored by Jerold Bottiger, Ph.D., Robert Doherty and Jana Kesavan, Ph.D.

• ‘Continuous Loop UV Mutagenesis Chemostat Reactor for the Selection of C-F Degrading Bacteria’ — Jennifer Mohr from UMBC, mentored by Melissa Dixon, Steve Harvey, Ph.D. and Vipin Rastogi, Ph.D.

• ‘Identification of Shiga-like Toxin Production by Escherichia coli Using ELISAs’ — Jessica Ditillo from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, mentored by Isaac Fruchey.

• ‘MIST Chamber Remodeling’ — Amon Dow III from Morgan State University, mentored by Do Nguyen and Kenneth Eng.

• ‘Protecting the Warfighter’ — Michael Bennett, Jr. from Morgan State University, mentored by Chika Nzelibe.

• ‘Q97A1 Filter Airflow Unit Tester’ — Brandon Au from the University of Maryland, mentored by Do Nguyen and Myat Win.

• ‘QP Performance Rates for the of Chemical Warfare Materials from Air Monitoring Samples’ — Samantha Bahre from UMBC mentored by John Schwarz and Jenny Rendon from Old Dominion University mentored by Wendy Smith.

• ‘The Microwave Drying of Molecular Sieve for Joint Chemical Agent Detector: Phase 1 Regeneration’ — Richard A. Negri from Morgan State University, mentored by Michael Benham.

• ‘Vibration and Mechanical Shock Testing’ — Michele Stamm from the University of Maryland, mentored by Michael Palko.

Please click on the following link to read a student testimonial by Richard A. Negri, who participated in the MUSIP program for the second consecutive year: http://bit.ly/qtCaG8.

For more photos of this year’s MUSIP highlights, please click here: http://bit.ly/qZbFJF

For more information about ECBC, visit http://www.ecbc.army.mil/.

Local officials, Maryland college presidents tour APG

 

Maj. Gen. Nick Justice hosts a visit from local officials and college representatives July 28 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

Maj. Gen. Nick Justice hosts a visit from local officials and college representatives July 28 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Harford County Executive David Craig and nine college presidents from across Maryland visited Aberdeen Proving Ground July 28. APG senior commander Maj. Gen. Nick Justice led the tour, which included the Communications–Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center’s Prototype Integration Facility.

Army officials and educators discussed building the APG workforce and opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education.

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Engineering expertise leads to $1.6B savings

U.S. Army Special Operations Soldiers, assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan, arrive in an FMTV at a staging area on an undisclosed Forward Operating Base. Changes to cab procurements for the FMTV A1P2 have resulted in savings of approximately $1.4 billion to the Army. (U.S. Army photo by SPC Daniel Love.)

U.S. Army Special Operations Soldiers, assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan, arrive in an FMTV at a staging area on an undisclosed Forward Operating Base. Changes to cab procurements for the FMTV A1P2 have resulted in savings of approximately $1.4 billion to the Army. (U.S. Army photo by SPC Daniel Love.)

For the ninth consecutive year, the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) surpassed its fiscal year savings goal, amassing a record $1.6 billion in savings and exceeding its target by 884 percent by implementing value engineering proposals.

In June 2011, the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s tank and automotive center’s  Engineering Cost Reduction Team — which manages TACOM LCMC’s VE programs — and Program Manager Medium Tactical Vehicles, were honored with the Department of Defense VE Award for their achievements.

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Picatinny teams up with West Point on technology research

The United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., will join organizations at Picatinny Arsenal to advance the Army's efforts in research, development and acquisition. (West Point photo)

The United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., will join organizations at Picatinny Arsenal to advance the Army's efforts in research, development and acquisition. (West Point photo)

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. – Picatinny Arsenal and the United States Military Academy have formed a closer relationship to enhance mutual research capabilities.

The Program Executive Office for Ammunition, and the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center here have signed a memorandum of agreement with the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., to promote the Army’s efforts in research, development and acquisition.

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DoE-DA Alliance underlines achieving energy security

Maj. Gen. Nick Justice speaks with Sen. Levin

U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command Commanding General Maj. Gen. Nick Justice and Sen. Levin prepare for two days of energy discussions at the AVPT workshop.

As the price of oil continues to fluctuate and the Nation searches for fuel-efficiency and an energy future independent of foreign oil, the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of the Army are collaborating to address this pressing national security issue.

The Advanced Vehicle Power and Technology Alliance aligns experts from across DoE, DA and industry to explore solutions for decreasing petroleum dependence, increasing fuel efficiency and enhancing the Nation’s energy security infrastructure. “We have the same vision,” remarked U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center Director Dr. Grace M. Bochenek. “This is a good partnership that will provide us the opportunity to share capabilities and access resources that we couldn’t alone. It will help us accelerate technology development, drive innovation, increase the value of our research investments and, at the same time, address the national energy need.”

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