NATICK, Mass. -- The Soldier Science Research Symposium: Making Connections with NSRDEC was held recently at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The symposium and poster presentation highlighted the independent and joint work of longtime collaborators, the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, or WPI.

The purpose of the symposium was to advance the extraordinary partnerships that already exist between the two science and technology leaders and to create new partnerships. The event was intended to help NSRDEC and WPI scientists and engineers make connections and have conversations that encourage future collaboration.

NSRDEC is committed to optimizing warfighter performance and lethality and is made up of five directorates, including Aerial Delivery, Combat Feeding, Expeditionary Maneuver Support, Soldier Protection and Survivability, and Soldier Performance Optimization.

In 2016 NSRDEC and WPI enacted a Master Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, facilitating collaboration and the exchange of information. The two institutions also established an Education Partnership Agreement in 2017.

WPI President Dr. Laurie Leshin stated that WPI and Natick have a strong, established relationship, collaborating on a wide variety of areas that benefit the nation's warfighters.

One key area of collaboration between NSRDEC and WPI is fire science, including the development of new modeling tools to better predict material burn properties and new methodologies for testing.

Dr. Charlene Mello, NSRDEC chief scientist, provided an overview of NSRDEC and discussed the importance of NSRDEC and WPI collaborations.

Dr. Mello hoped the symposium would be a "seed that builds enduring relationships" between NSRDEC and WPI. She said that many WPI students go on to work at NSRDEC. She noted the importance of attracting employees "who understand how to solve problems holistically," observing that "WPI has a unique capability for doing that."

"WPI pursues answers to real world problems with a multidisciplinary approach to research and learning, which aligns well with NSRDEC's need to provide Soldiers with innovative yet practical solutions for the future operating environment," said Mello. "Collaborating with WPI allows our scientists and engineers to leverage the expertise, knowledge, and creativity of the faculty and students while WPI gains a greater understanding of the technical issues and challenges the Soldier faces."

Clinton McAdams -- science and technology lead for NSRDEC's Expeditionary Maneuver Support Directorate and one of many WPI graduates who went on to make a valuable contribution to NSRDEC -- found the symposium to be an excellent venue at which to make connections and find out about emerging technologies.

"I found the event to be a great opportunity to understand where state of the art technology stands as it relates to the Soldier and the Expeditionary Maneuver Support Directorate and we are very excited with the information we learned," said McAdams.

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The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.