PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. - Picatinny Arsenal employees have developed an innovative device to make mortar training more efficient after attending a recent Phase 4 "greening" course at the Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCOE) at Fort Benning, Georgia.
"Greening" helps Picatinny engineers who design products for service members to better understand the many daily activities and challenges that Army Soldiers experience, thus gaining a perspective which helps to inform how the engineering community design products.
The employees who attended the Fort Benning course work at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, the largest tenant organization at the Arsenal. ARDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.
"That's the beauty of the greening course. We are there to interact with the warfighters," said Christine Plutta, a product support integrator with the Enterprise & Systems Integration Center's Life Cycle Supportability Division.
"They have real first-hand knowledge of what works and what doesn't work," she added. "We get to work with them, ask them questions, and then a solution can come out of the problem statement they present."
In October 2017, 12 engineers, scientists, and logisticians (including Plutta) spent 10 days attending the MortarEx "greening" course, where they were provided with insights on the operations of the 120 mm, 80 mm and 60 mm mortars.
While working with MCOE instructors, the ARDEC team learned of a problem the trainers were experiencing while trying to instruct what could be as many as 200 stu?dents at a time.
The instructors were looking for a way to show each Soldier what they would see when looking through the mortar's scope. Having each student come up individually was very time consuming.
"What if we could mount a cell phone and use its camera to project the image to the classroom?" Plutta thought.
Once back at Picatinny, she contacted employees at the Additive Manufacturing Lab about creating a device that would help solve the problem the mortar instructors were encountering. Matthew Brauer, Ryan Petillo, and David Sabanosh brainstormed to see what they could develop.
The team fabricated a holder that fits a phone and sits on the side of the mortar tube.
"It's a 3-D printed holder that goes over the scope,"Plutta said. "David made two sizes, one that would fit an iPhone and one that would fit a Samsung Galaxy. You just pull the two side arms out (because they are coiled) and place the phone in. Then you are able to move the phone to the scope, set the camera on the phone, and then they are able to then plug in a USB cord and project it on to the screen."
Now, with the help of these ARDEC employees, the Soldiers in the Mortar Company will have a device that "will provide value and efficiency in their training.
Plutta noted another project in which other ARDEC engineers were asked to bore out the bottom of several mortar tubes which were at the end of their life cycle so that the Mortar School instructors could use them as training aids in instructing the students on how to drop mortar rounds before live fire events.
Currently the Fort Benning school only has two tubes to conduct this training. With up to 200 privates to train, the mortar training device is another option saving valuable time.