Thursday, September 29, 2011

ECBC Advanced Design and Manufacturing Conceptual Modeling Team Works with U.S. Army to Design Futuristic Recruitment Vehicle

The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center Engineering Directorate’s  Advanced Design and Manufacturing Division (ADM) Conceptual Modeling and Animation Branch (CMAB) is supporting the U.S. Army to recruit science, math and engineering talent through an innovative, high-tech project that simulates the U.S. Army in the year 2032.
CMAB conceptualized and designed the interactive recruitment project for the U.S. Army’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Innovation Asset, enlisting the skilled work of several different team members including industrial designers, graphic artists, animators, computer scientists and programmers. The rest of the project was carried out by various branches of ADM.
“We have about 20 people working on the project,” said ADM’s CMAB Chief Jeff Warwick. “The order came from the Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM) corporate communications. Since we do concept work, the request came straight to us.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ECBC's Standards Development Support Team drafts standardizations for chemical detectors with industry professionals, government agencies

In an effort to enhance First Responder capabilities and establish a program which provides certified equipment to fire and law enforcement, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's Standards Development Team (SDT) is collaborating with government agencies and industry professionals to draft performance specifications and test methods for chemical detection equipment.
“Emergency First Responders must arrive prepared to a scene and ready to take on any scenario using the necessary instruments. Most responders have several different types of chemical detectors and monitors for use in various response scenarios. Current chemical detectors sold on the market are not independently certified outside of vendors’ claims, ” said SDT Branch Chief Greg Mrozinski.

The goal is to have certified equipment in the hands of the First Responders who are using U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant money to purchase the items, similar to what currently exists with respirators and protective suits. ECBC’s SDT works under an interagency agreement with the DHS Science and Technology Directorate to establish certification standards for the equipment that First Responders use.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In the Army Now: Inside the U.S. Army's Basic Training

The Edgewood Chemical Biological Center blog features a regular series titled “In the Army Now,” providing information pieces addressing frequently asked questions about the Army culture and structure. In this month’s “In the Army Now,” we look at Basic Training.

U.S. Army Basic Training is the rigorous program of physical and mental training required in order for an individual to become a soldier in the U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve or Army National Guard. It is carried out at several different Army posts around the United States. Basic Training is designed to be highly intense and challenging. The challenge comes as much from the difficulty of physical training as it does from the required quick psychological adjustment to an unfamiliar way of life.

Basic Training is divided into two parts: Basic Combat Training (BCT) and Advanced Individual Training (AIT). BCT consists of the first 10 weeks of the total Basic Training period and is identical for all Army, Army Reserve, and Army National Guard recruits. BCT is where individuals learn about the fundamentals of being a Soldier, from combat techniques to the proper way to address a superior. BCT is also where individuals undergo rigorous physical training to prepare their bodies for the eventual physical strain of combat. One of the most difficult and essential lessons learned in BCT is self-discipline, as it introduces prospective Soldiers to a strict daily schedule that entails many duties and high expectations for which most civilians are not immediately ready.

BCT is divided into three phases. The three phases are each represented by a color (red, white, and blue) for Phase I, Phase II and Phase III. BCT trainees are progressively allowed more responsibility, privileges, and independence each time they achieve a new phase of training. For example, trainees in Phase I are constantly monitored and led around by their drill sergeants, while Phase III trainees are largely responsible for making sure tasks are completed correctly and on-time, and keeping themselves on-schedule. Week 2 of Phase III (the eighth week of Basic Training) culminates in a special tactical Field Training Exercise (FTX), during which the drill sergeants will advise, but allow recruit platoon leaders and squad leaders to exercise primary decision-making. They attempt to make virtually every one of these exercises different. Because being a soldier is potentially an extremely hazardous job, recruits must demonstrate extreme aggression and fearlessness, tempered by intelligence and common sense. Only those that demonstrate these vital attributes will be permitted to move on to AIT. Following their FTX, recruits then move into the final week of training, often called “recovery week.” At this time, soldiers must service and/or repair any items they are not taking on to AIT, including weapons, bedding and issued equipment (helmet, canteen, gas mask, etc.) as well as ensuring that the platoon barracks is in good order to receive the next platoon of trainees. This week also includes a final fitting of the recruit’s dress uniform as well as practice for the graduation ceremony, which takes place at the end of the week.

AIT consists of the remainder of the total Basic Training period and is where recruits train in the specifics of their chosen field. AIT is different for each available Army career path, or Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). For example, if an individual has an MOS of Human Intelligence Collector, they would be sent, following completion of BCT, to the Intelligence School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. If an individual instead had the MOS of Army medic, they would be sent to the Army Medical Department School at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. AIT courses can last anywhere from six to 52 weeks. Although many AIT schools don’t center around combat the way BCT does, individuals are still continually tested for physical fitness and weapons proficiency and are subject to the same duties, strict daily schedule, and disciplinary rules as in BCT.

Just like BCT, AIT progressively allows trainees more and more privileges. At the start of AIT, trainees are in Phase IV. After a varying length of time and satisfactory performance, the trainees are awarded Phase V. Phase V often includes the privilege of applying for off-post passes or use of a cell phone. Phase V+ is awarded after a similar length of time and continued good conduct. Phase V+ trainees may walk about the base without having a battle buddy present, be able to drink alcohol on weekends (provided one is of legal drinking age) and even stay off-post overnight on weekends.

Friday, September 16, 2011

ECBC’s Advanced Technology Demonstration Branch’s HaMMER Team Completes Second Early User Assessment, Demonstrates New Hazard Mitigation Technologies

The Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) Branch within the Engineering Directorate supports technical, acquisition, and operational communities by demonstrating new technologies. In simple terms, an ATD can show that the right technologies will be pursued to accomplish the right goals.

In July, the ATD Branch’s Hazard Mitigation, Materiel and Equipment Restoration (HaMMER) Team wrapped up the second of two early user assessments (EUA), aimed at identifying Warfighter-desired hardware and applicator configurations to better support HaMMER technologies that will be demonstrated in the FY12 HaMMER Operational Demonstration.

EAU2 was held from July 18-22 in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, with approximately 33 Warfighters supporting the assessment. Participants included Warfighters from the following organizations: 8th Theater Sustainment Command; 25th Infantry Division Chemical Section; the 71st Chemical Company of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; the U.S. Air Force 15th Wing of Hickman Air Force Base, Hawaii; the U.S. Marines, III Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEF); and the Marine Corps Base of Kaneohe Bay.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

National Research Council Conducts Staff Visit to Review Postdoc Program

ECBC postdoc Bryn Adams presents her work with quorum sensing.
Two members of the National Research Council (NRC) visited the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) on Aug. 8, to review ECBC’s Postdoctoral Resident Research Associateship Program (RAP).

NRC Program Administrator Eric Basques, Ph.D., and Fiscal and Administrative Officer Julie Parker, as well as two members of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, participated in the staff visit, which included presentations by ECBC’s postdoctoral associates and visits to labs.

“We are proud and happy to have you here today,” said Steve Lawhorne, deputy director of ECBC’s Research and Technology Directorate. “The NRC and ECBC were formed within a year of each other (1916 and 1917, respectively). This has been a good union.”

Basques presented an overview of the NRC, which is part of the National Academies, and of the NRC RAP. The RAP mission is to promote excellence in scientific and technological research conducted by the U. S. government through the administration of programs offering graduate, postdoctoral and senior level research opportunities at sponsoring federal laboratories and affiliated institutions.

ECBC is one of those sponsoring federal laboratories. The Center currently has seven associates on tenure and is considering award offers to three additional scientists. Since 1985, ECBC has sponsored 63 associates. The program provides postdoctoral and senior scientists of unusual promise and ability with opportunities for research on problems that are compatible with ECBC’s interests.

“We are the resident research associateship program,” said Basques. “The intent is for the postdoc to conduct work at the lab so that both sides receive an advantage, including the exchange of new ideas and the opportunity to work with top-flight scientists and engineers.”

Scientists who are awarded the NRC associateship receive many benefits, including a competitive stipend, career enhancement, the ability to devote all of their working time to their research, access to unique facilities, and collaboration with leading scientists and engineers.

Applicants apply online for listed opportunities, and the NRC conducts quarterly reviews of the applications. Evaluation factors include academic and research record, scientific merit of the proposed research, and laboratory technical evaluation and willingness to support research.

During the Aug. 8 staff visit, ECBC postdocs reviewed a wide range of their research – from quorum sensing (cell-to-cell communication) to the potential for human stem cells (sourced from somatic cells) to develop highthroughput, high content toxicological bioassays.

“Listening to the postdocs’ presentations and hearing about the contributions they are making was very impressive,” said Harry Salem, Ph.D., ECBC’s Laboratory Program Representative. “We have seen a welcome increase in our NRC program in recent years.”

ECBC currently offers 38 active opportunities with 18 advisors.

ECBC's Dean Hansen Patents Innovative, Military Packing Container

Dean Hansen of the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's Engineering Packaging Branch,  is thinking outside of the box – literally. After three years in the making, Hansen has successfully patented a revolutionary, reusable military packing box that will allow for increased durability, longevity and customization to remain concurrent with item design.
“If I wasn’t looking for a cheaper way of doing things, this idea could have gone right by me,” Hansen said. “Some of the success of this invention has come by way of accident, but mostly because our team was searching for a more cost-effective packing solution.”
Almost three years ago, Hansen was asked to attend a packaging system test at the Aberdeen Test Center. The system being tested was an antiquated technology made up of fiber board, and Hansen believed he could create a cheaper, more resistant packaging technology. He returned to his office, and within a week, designed the aerial deliver box to meet this new requirement.