Passageway to innovation
Firstie Kyle Volle and Lt. Col. Bruce Floersheim examine the prototype passageway.

WEST POINT, N.Y. (Sept. 23, 2010) -- Engineers from the Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center approached professors in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering in the fall of 2009 requesting their assistance in developing an innovative new passageway system to connect adjacent, expandable ISO shelters used for field command and control centers and hospital surgical suites.

The existing passageway consisted of a heavy (four-person carry) ramp inside a canvas tunnel. The Natick Center wanted to address several concerns by the Missile Defense Agency, which could not use the existing passageway to connect adjacent shelters without violating operational security requirements for their sites.

Lt. Col. Bruce Floersheim, an academy professor in CME, and Class of 2011 Cadet Kyle Volle, a mechanical engineering student and the cadet brigade command sergeant major, agreed to tackle the challenge as part of Volle's mechanical engineering degree program in the form of an independent study project in the spring of 2010.

In February, Volle and Floersheim traveled to Natick, Mass., for a full-day on-site visit with the Composite Shelters Team working on the project. The Natick team, lead by Melvin Jee, included Bill Greehy, Class of 1984, who had approached his boss about tapping West Point's expertise and supporting cadet education at the same time for several projects, including this one.

Floersheim and Volle examined existing shelters, discussed concerns with Natick engineers and facilitated a workshop to elicit new design concepts based upon customer concerns and required functionality. Design continued throughout the spring and concluded with a briefing and presentation of the concept to Natick engineers and a representative from the Missile Defense Agency on Projects' Day.

The concept presented to the customers was a modular rigid enclosure solution with integrated walls and ramp. Unique features of the design included a folding system that locks into the side wall panel during transportation, eliminating storage space requirements that existed before. The floor and roof module are identical, one coming from each shelter being joined.

Each section (ramp and side walls) weighs less than the single ramp that it replaced. The entire design fits within the canvas tunnel, which remains as a dust and weather barrier. With an approved final design concept, Volle traveled to Natick after the academy's 2010 graduation to work for three weeks on an Advanced Individual Academic Development completing the final detail design work and constructing the prototype with Natick manufacturing engineers.

The structure was deployed to Vandenberg Air Force Base shortly thereafter and put into service where it is today supporting Missile Defense Agency operations.

This effort is just one of many examples of projects undertaken at West Point across the departments where military requirements may be met while satisfying cadet educational requirements at the same time. Volle had a great experience working with the Natick SRDEC engineers, tackling a real-world engineering problem and during his firstie year will continue working with Floersheim and the SRDEC team to tackle a critical Army need.

Volle will be leading a team of cadets from CME, Depatment of Military Instruction and Behavorial Sciences & Leadership in the design and development of a protective barrier-currently called a collapsible fighting position-for Soldiers to use in modular fashion to hastily construct one- or two-man fighting positions in Afghanistan during the first 48 hours of Forward Operating Base construction.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16