DETROIT--Transportation design students at the College of Creative Studies briefed their ground vehicle concepts which address the Army's mobility needs for sustaining operations in extreme environments.
During the semester-long project, engineers and scientists at the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, worked with CCS students on validating their design approaches while Soldiers from the Michigan National Guard provided input on feasibility for a variety of sustainment operations.
In its fifth year, the TARDEC-developed project, called Soldier Innovation Workshop, supports the Army in realizing enhanced technologies that result in near-term operational overmatch and future operating environment dominance. This time students were asked to come up with vehicle designs to solve a broad category of sustainability, that is, supply needs in a rapidly moving unit without the need for a forward operating base. Students had to consider requirements for expeditionary force autonomy for seven straight days, accounting for food, water, medicine, fuel, power, ammunition, parts, and building materials.
Transportation design student Henry Parrott said unlike other projects he's encountered at CCS, this one had real-world implications.
"We're making something for real life and people and trying to solve real problems," Parrott said.
Impressed with students' concepts, TARDEC Director Jeffrey Langhout said their vehicle designs may show up on the battlefield someday soon.
"You guys are helping shape our future," Langhout said. "From a long-term national security perspective, we need young people like you to hang out with our men and women in uniform. We need you to see what makes this Army go."
MING Soldiers were involved with students from the get-go, advising them every step of the way.
"Students came up with great questions," said Maj. Stephen Lemelin, 46th Military Police Command. "They'd call me between classes. 'Hey, what about this? Can we do that?' "
Lemelin said working with the students at first was a big cultural change for both sides, but once they got going it was an "amazing" partnership.
"I've got to say these students went above and beyond to produce this level of quality product. I'm glad I got to be a part of it," he said.
CCS Transportation Design Professor Thomas Roney said his junior-level students rose to the critical challenges of designing vehicles at a time when the increasing OPTEMPO of warfare is making mobility the new survivability.
"This project demanded a lot of thoroughness and details," Roney said. "It taught students good habits about story boarding and making sure they solve the problem set out at the beginning."
Over the years, TARDEC's Soldier Innovation Workshops have focused on topics including mobile protected firepower, arctic mobility, and the Next Generation Combat Vehicle. Some major outcomes of these workshops have been TARDEC's Virtual Window prototype for increased situational awareness and the Squad Centric Mounted Maneuver initial prototype vehicles.