Army lauds achievements of RDECOM scientists

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Six U.S. Army Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Com­mand lab­o­ra­to­ries and 111 employ­ees were named 2009 Research and Devel­op­ment Achieve­ment Award win­ners in an Aug. 24 announce­ment by the deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of the Army (Research and Tech­nol­o­gy).

Two AH-64D Apaches from the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
Two AH-64D Apach­es from the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 227th Avi­a­tion Reg­i­ment, 1st Air Cav­al­ry Brigade, 1st Cav­al­ry Divi­sion, come in for a land­ing at Camp Taji, Iraq, after com­plet­ing a recon­nais­sance mis­sion in the skies over Bagh­dad Nov. 6, 2009. AMRDEC sci­en­tists were award­ed for their work to improve the Apache’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems.
Pho­to cred­it U.S. Army pho­to by Chief War­rant Offi­cer 4 Daniel McClin­ton
Click to enlarge

“Their con­tri­bu­tions promise to improve the Army’s capa­bil­i­ty and enhance our nation­al defense,” Mar­i­lyn Miller Free­man said in the memo that also rec­og­nized the hard work and ded­i­ca­tion of the scientists. 

The award win­ners share a com­mon vision and pur­pose — improv­ing the mis­sion effec­tive­ness and safe­ty of Amer­i­can warfighters. 

IED defeat is pri­or­i­ty No. 1

Nicole Devitt, a project leader in the Night Vision and Elec­tron­ic Sen­sors Direc­torate of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions-Elec­tron­ics Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter, received an RDA Award for her work head­ing the Recog­ni­tion of Com­bat­ants-Impro­vised Explo­sive Devices Iraq and Afghanistan program. 

“Going for­ward, we’ll do what the warfight­er wants us to do,” Devitt said. “If need­ed, we’ll expand to dif­fer­ent threats or areas. IEDs are a proven tac­tic against us — it would be unwise to think [ROC-IED] will be used only in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will con­tin­ue to be use­ful to train against poten­tial [threats] in oth­er areas.” 

Col. Thomas H. Bryant, com­man­der of the Avi­a­tion Applied Tech­nol­o­gy Direc­torate in the Avi­a­tion and Mis­sile Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter, echoed Devitt’s com­ments. Bryant is the commander’s sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy advis­er with U.S. Forces Afghanistan, and dis­cussed the Army Air­borne Special/Combination Com­mu­ni­ca­tions-15E Com­mand and Con­trol Sys­tem team’s efforts. 

“After only one month, this team designed, doc­u­ment­ed, sub­stan­ti­at­ed the air­wor­thi­ness, installed and flew an impor­tant mod­i­fi­ca­tion that result­ed in improved destruc­tion of the IED net­work in Region­al Com­mand South,” Bryant said. “IEDs are the sin­gle biggest casu­al­ty pro­duc­ing weapon in Afghanistan.” 

Improv­ing Army avi­a­tion

Bryant said the ded­i­ca­tion of AATD sci­en­tists trans­lates to improved capa­bil­i­ties for Sol­diers. Imple­ment­ing tech­nol­o­gy quick­ly is key when work­ing to defeat the ene­my, he said. 

“The entire team, either togeth­er or sep­a­rate­ly, has lit­er­al­ly trav­eled the globe installing this sys­tem to units need­ing enhanced con­nec­tiv­i­ty and sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness on the go,” he said. “At great per­son­al risk, Dave Kin­ney deployed to Kan­da­har, Afghanistan, with almost no notice to test and install a new­ly designed vari­a­tion to the 15E sys­tem. As incred­i­ble as flight test­ing a sys­tem tweak over an active com­bat zone sounds, it is more incred­i­ble that this team installed this capa­bil­i­ty only 30 days after the brigade com­man­der noti­fied AATD that he would like a modification.” 

Jay Fletch­er dis­cussed his team’s ded­i­ca­tion on the Rotor­craft Air­crew Sys­tems Con­cepts Air­borne Lab­o­ra­to­ry project. Fletch­er is an AMRDEC flight con­trol engi­neer and a RASCAL project man­ag­er for the U.S. Army Aeroflight­dy­nam­ics Direc­torate. The RASCAL is a Black Hawk heli­copter mod­i­fied for fly-by-wire con­trol sys­tems research, which means the con­trol ele­ments are actu­at­ed elec­tron­i­cal­ly rather than mechanically. 

“I feel very for­tu­nate to lead a group of high­ly skilled and moti­vat­ed,” Fletch­er said. “It is most grat­i­fy­ing to know that these achieve­ments pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits to the Army and that they are rec­og­nized by Army S&T leadership.” 

Bri­an Grantham, an AMRDEC elec­tron­ics engi­neer and act­ing team lead for nav­i­ga­tion sen­sors, sees his team’s ded­i­ca­tion trans­lat­ing to bet­ter equip­ment for Soldiers. 

“It has been an hon­or to work on the Tra­jec­to­ry Cor­rec­tion Kit pro­gram with such an out­stand­ing team of engi­neers,” he said. “The AMRDEC team is deliv­er­ing ever-increas­ing capa­bil­i­ty to the warfight­er while reduc­ing the bur­den on the tax­pay­er. The TCK pro­gram is an excel­lent exam­ple of that dedication.” 

Dale John­son, AMRDEC aero­space engi­neer, was rec­og­nized for his work on the Manned/Unmanned Com­mon Archi­tec­ture Pro­gram which will help Apache heli­copters com­mu­ni­cate with an array of systems. 

“The MCAP archi­tec­ture has pro­vid­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties to demon­strate how a Long­bow Apache attack heli­copter will inter­op­er­ate with a diverse array of air and ground sys­tems in the future,” John­son said. “In today’s Army, heli­copters can only com­mu­ni­cate with a select group of oth­er sys­tems that have radios designed for very spe­cif­ic pur­pos­es. In the net­work-cen­tric envi­ron­ment of the future, Apache heli­copters will have to inter­op­er­ate with a much wider group of col­lab­o­ra­tors, includ­ing ground Sol­diers, civil­ian author­i­ties, as well as joint and coali­tion forces.” 

Col­lab­o­ra­tion vital to sci­en­tif­ic research

A com­mon theme among the award win­ners is research col­lab­o­ra­tion, with­in a lab­o­ra­to­ry and between them as well. The exper­tise through­out RDECOM leads to bet­ter results and more effec­tive research, recip­i­ents said. 

Ger­ar­do Melen­dez, direc­tor of Arma­ment Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter, said team­work among sci­en­tists is vital to imple­ment tech­no­log­i­cal improve­ments for warfighters. 

“Each per­son named in this award has con­tributed to the Army’s mis­sion in a big way,” Melen­dez said. “Since all of the sci­en­tists in RDECOM work as a com­mu­ni­ty, all hon­orees con­tribute to our nation, and to what we do here at Picatin­ny. I’m espe­cial­ly proud of the great show­ing of ARDEC engi­neers in this year’s program.” 

Jan­ice Rock, an AMRDEC elec­tron­ics engi­neer, worked col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly on the Radio Fre­quen­cy Micro­electro­mechan­i­cal Sys­tem with two oth­er research centers. 

“The project this award is based on involved AMRDEC, CERDEC and Army Research Lab­o­ra­to­ry,” Rock said. “We worked togeth­er on this project over four years, cul­mi­nat­ing in an AMRDEC demon­stra­tion of a CERDEC phase-shifter devel­op­ment. The results will help shape the future of RF MEMS devel­op­ment. Work­ing togeth­er across mul­ti­ple labs with engi­neers of such a broad expe­ri­ence base has been amazing.” 

Dr. Michael Groen­ert, a CERDEC per­sis­tent sur­veil­lance expert, stressed col­lab­o­ra­tion in rapid­ly field­ing a new system. 

“The AWAPSS [Air­borne Wide Area Per­sis­tent Sur­veil­lance Sen­sor] team could­n’t have deliv­ered this sen­sor sys­tem so quick­ly with­out the sup­port of the NVESD flight test detach­ment at Davi­son Army Air­field and the local con­trac­tor team that sup­port­ed our pro­gram,” he said. “We are proud of the con­tri­bu­tion that the AWAPSS sys­tem made to the JFCOM [Joint Forces Com­mand] Empire Chal­lenge exer­cise this sum­mer, and hope AWAPSS will make an even greater con­tri­bu­tion in sup­port of our Sol­diers when it begins oper­a­tions in the­ater shortly.” 

Focused on warfight­ers

Researchers empha­sized the impor­tance of keep­ing the needs of their cus­tomers — the warfight­ers — at the fore­front of their efforts. 

“The abil­i­ty to work in a posi­tion that has the oppor­tu­ni­ty to give some­thing back to the com­mu­ni­ty, this nation and espe­cial­ly to the Sol­dier who is fight­ing for our free­dom is amaz­ing,” Rock said. 

ARL Direc­tor John Miller praised his sci­en­tists’ ded­i­ca­tion to advanc­ing the mis­sions of the Army’s Soldiers. 

“They are devel­op­ing crit­i­cal tech­nol­o­gy-enabled capa­bil­i­ties for our Sol­diers of today and the future,” he said. “The ARL RDA award recip­i­ents are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the entire lab­o­ra­to­ry work­force in their ded­i­ca­tion to relent­less­ly push­ing the enve­lope in research, tech­nol­o­gy and analy­sis in sup­port of the warfighter.” 

By Dan Lafontaine (Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Com­mand Pub­lic Affairs) 

US Army 

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