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Daniella Gonzalez, from New Jersey Institute of Technology, presents her STEM Scholar project to ARDEC leadership on Aug. 9. Projects ranged from creating prosthetic hands to writing and editing a paper on how to degrade RDX, an explosive used in mil... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Summer scholars at Picatinny Arsenal concluded their internships with real-life engineering experience and accomplishments under their belts, all while supporting our nation's military.

The college students were part of Picatinny's STEM Scholars program. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. The students worked for six weeks as New Jersey Institute of Technology contractors within multiple departments across the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, at Picatinny.

During their time with the scholars program, the students benefited from experiential learning that afforded them the opportunity to solve real-world military challenges. Some of the projects included designing hand-held controllers for weapon systems. Other student activities involved 3-D printing and testing of an 80 mm projectile for an air cannon, and researching innovative ways to demilitarize explosives.

"An intern works on a menagerie of products," said Shah Dabiri, the STEM manager at Picatinny. "A scholar comes in and the rule is that they must work on one project that they will be solely focused on and at the end of the summer they must present on that project.

"By working on one project from start to finish, they see the whole ARDEC process of design, development and engineering-- working to understand the customer. It gives a more holistic view on what it takes to be a scientist or engineer."

Natalie Shultis of Rutgers University and Alexander Tran of New Jersey Institute of Technology worked at ARDEC's Tactical Behavior Research Laboratory. They helped collect data on human behavior, which will allow scientists and engineers to investigate human response and decision making.

Shultis said a valuable lesson learned from her internship was to always keep the human user in mind when designing a product.

In addition to the experience earned from the projects, one student will have a published paper.

Ratchell Sadovnik, from Rutgers University, worked with Rutgers University and ARDEC's Demilitarization Branch to write and edit a paper on how to organically degrade RDX, an explosive used in military munitions. Her contributions were enough to qualify her as a co-author of a research paper to be published in the International

Biodeterioration and Biodegradation Journal.

She said that the internship allowed her to become a published scientist/writer, something that a lot of scientists cannot say until they are well out of college.

Adam Steinmark, a student at County College of Morris, worked in the Collaboration Innovation Laboratory and with the Materials & Producibility Division to create an inexpensive 3-D printer that teachers can assemble in the classroom to help introduce kids to 3-D printing and STEM at a young age.

He explained that most 3-D printers are expensive and "completely not kid-safe. They get up to temperatures over 250 degrees Celsius and this can be very damaging to young kids if they reach their hands in."

Steinmark has developed a potential solution and is working with Picatinny employees to complete the a patent application for the design.

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