Exclusive Interview with the Honorable Heidi Shyu

photoAssistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Heidi Shyu serves as the Army acquisition executive, the senior procurement executive, science advisor to the Secretary of the Army, and the Army’s senior research and development official. She also has principal responsibility for all Department of the Army matters related to logistics. She appoints and manages program executive officers and manages the Army Acquisition Corps and Army Acquisition Workforce.

What is your vision for ASA(ALT) collaboration with industry, academia and other organizations?

I think collaboration is really essential. No single person or organization possesses a monopoly on innovative ideas. It is critical for us to collaborate with industry, academia, federally funded R&D centers and other government organizations to solve difficult problems. So my vision is that we will collaborate across the board to spur innovation.

In the S&T arena, we work closely with academia. We also have the Broad Agency Announcement, small business forums, cross–service collaboration on Research, Development, Test and Evaluation. We collaborate with DARPA and university affiliated research centers. We have individual investigator grants and collaborations with partner nations. Defense companies are willing to invest their R&D dollars to help solve the Army’s challenges, so we need to dialogue with them to inform them of our challenges and stay abreast of their ideas, design and development activities. The goal is to get a multitude of ideas to figure out how to solve problems. Collaboration is critical.

How do you see technology providing Soldiers with the decisive edge?

There are many technologies that can provide Soldiers with the decisive edge. One of our key goals is to develop lighter and stronger armor. Why? Because it will enhance survivability and improve mobility. We’re also developing initiatives like continuous soldier health sensing and monitoring, disruptive energetic materials that could provide increased lethality, bio-inspired sensing to eliminate tactical surprise, and energy harvesting to reduce our dependence on fuel.

How do budget concerns affect your vision?

The Army has by and large protected its S&T budget. The rest of the budget has faced double-digit reductions. The American Soldier is the best equipped in the world – thanks to our materiel enterprise. We must continue to invest in S&T in order to equip our Soldier of the future.

We have focused on a 30-year plan, called the long-range investment requirements analysis, or LIRA, which is enabling us to link S&T efforts to programs of record. This will allow us to focus our research activities to address capability shortfalls.

How does ASA(ALT) partner with U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, its centers and laboratories?

The partnership we have with RDECOM is critical. RDECOM plays a very important role across all of the PEOs and the acquisition community by providing critical functions and skill sets such as research, development, systems engineering, design, performance analysis, modeling and simulation, software, reliability analysis, prototyping, integration and test, and more. For example:

  • CERDEC Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate S&T provided our Soldiers the ability to dominate the night
  • NSRDEC has provided transportable high energy efficient shower units, kitchen units and shelters
  • AMRDEC has provided critical missile expertise to PEO Missile & Space
  • TARDEC has provided high-fidelity modeling and simulation capabilities that accurately predict blast effects on our vehicles and enable us to design more survivable vehicles to reduce injuries to our Soldiers
  • All of CERDEC has provided technical assessment of the effectiveness of our tactical radios

What are your expectations from Army researchers, scientists and engineers?

It’s important for our Army researchers, scientists and engineers to stay fully abreast of the latest technologies and where the research is going. They really have to be masters of their domain to solve the Army’s difficult problems. We rely on them to give us the next generation of capabilities.

I’d like to see tighter linkages between the S&T community with the PMs, PEOs and the requirements community to ensure relevance, especially in this fiscally challenged environment. Ultimately we must understand the art of the possible and how to structure that for the future. As we look at the S&T capabilities we need to develop, I think it is critical for our researchers to tie into our 30-year road-map.

One of the key things I think the Army needs to do is ensure we provide our people with a research environment where they can innovate. We have world-class scientists and engineers in their field, and they are highly motivated to solve the most difficult problems for our Soldiers. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of our outstanding researchers, scientists and engineers, and I really admire their dedication, passion for their work and innovation. I’m very impressed with our caliber of researchers, and they are the critical enablers for us to develop the next generation of capabilities for our Soldiers.

Daniel R. McGauley (left), RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center executive officer, describes a Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station thermal imager protective cover designed and fabricated by his team at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 15, 2013 during a visit from Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, deputy for acquisition and systems management at ASA (ALT); Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology; and Gen. Dennis L. Via, commanding general, Army Materiel Command. (U.S. Army photo)

Daniel R. McGauley (left), RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center executive officer, describes a Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station thermal imager protective cover designed and fabricated by his team at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 15, 2013 during a visit from Maj. Gen. Harold Greene, deputy for acquisition and systems management at ASA (ALT); Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology; and Gen. Dennis L. Via, commanding general, Army Materiel Command. (U.S. Army photo)

Biography

Interactive, 3D repair manuals offer Soldiers numerous benefits

Sgt. Joshua Breen of HHC 2-502 Infantry uses a 3D interactive electronic repair manual to learn about Spider XM7 Network Munition Dispensing Set maintenance at Fort Campbell, Ky. in September, 2011.

This is not your grandfather’s well-thumbed repair manual.

Soldiers maintaining the newly fielded Spider XM7 Network Munition Dispensing Set are using an electronic technical manual that provides interactivity, color, 3D images, full-motion animations, skills training and an even an electronic reference library.

This new manual is called an Interactive Electronic Technical Manual (IETM). Spider is a hand-emplaced, remotely controlled anti-personnel munition system.

Spider’s IETM allows Soldiers to completely disassemble and re-assemble virtual models of the Spider system. Components in the model can be turned and viewed from different angles or “zoomed in” to view small parts.

These interactive features mark a significant departure from the black-and-white line drawings and detailed part listings of traditional paper manuals.

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Color-changing paints show potential safety benefits for Soldiers

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Red. Blue. Green. These aren’t just colors, but they are indicators that show potential benefits to enhance the safety of U.S. warfighters.

Picatinny engineers are working on a new paint formula that will tell Soldiers if their ammunition is safe to use just by looking at the color.

Referred to as Thermal Indicating Paints, this formula uses thermochromic polymers to detect temperature ranges that ammunition was exposed to during transport or storage.

A common example of a thermochromic object is a mood ring, which changes color in response to the body temperature of the wearer. The thermochromic element changes the wavelength of light when it is exposed to different temperatures.

The same basic concept applies to thermal indicating paints for ammunition, but Picatinny’s challenge is ensuring the color change is permanent.

“We have formulas that change color within the designated temperature ranges, but our biggest challenge is maintaining long-term stability of a coating,” said James Zunino, Project Officer / Materials Engineer, Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC). “We have to develop a paint that will survive in military operating conditions, including harsh temperatures and wind blasts.”

Throughout combat operations, ammunition is often exposed to extreme temperatures during transport, storage and pre-positioning. Research shows that Middle East combat operations temperatures inside munition containers can exceed 190 degrees Fahrenheit. (Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit under standard conditions at sea level.)

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