By Mr. J.E. “Jack” Surash, P.E., Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment, Mr. Brad Gustafson, P.E., Program Manager for the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy and Sustainability and Dr. Bret Strogen, P.E. former Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment
The Senior Capstone experience at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point allows cadets to draw upon and apply knowledge in their chosen majors as well as knowledge gained throughout the course of their studies to design solutions to real-world problems. This year, select First Class, or senior year, cadets from the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering (CME) and the Department of Systems Engineering (DSE), are participating in a new Senior Capstone project sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy and Environment).
This innovative project is the result of a collaboration between the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy and Sustainability and USMA professors Lt. Col. Brad McCoy and Dr. F. Todd Davidson, who work within the Center for Innovation and Engineering housed within CME, and Maj. Steve McCarthy from the DSE.
Army readiness begins on our installations where secure access to energy and water is vital to supporting critical missions. Just as USMA cadets are key to the future of the force, so too is the resilience of our installations’ energy and water systems and infrastructure.
The Army Energy and Water Systems Resilience project is an opportunity for cadets to work on issues they may face during their Army engineering careers. It provides cadets valuable first-hand exposure to Army energy and water requirements and professional challenges, right at the time they are receiving their branch assignments – the final stage of a process that determines in which of the Army’s 17 branches they will pursue their careers.
The project team of engineering faculty and cadets are researching industry norms, practices, and common challenges during the 2020-21 academic year. The cadets chosen for this program are: Cadet Neil Blackwell (mechanical engineering), Cadet Aubrey Evans (mechanical engineering), Cadet Phoebe Lee (systems engineering), Cadet Christine Panlasigui (civil engineering), Cadet Duncan Russell (civil engineering), and Cadet Ke’Shaun Wells (systems engineering).
The team is working with Army energy managers at three installations (Fort Benning, Georgia; Fort Knox, Kentucky; and Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois) and other Army stakeholders, who implement energy and sustainability best practices. They will also develop a report that summarizes the technical data collected and identifies energy and water system resilience capability gaps, lessons learned, and recommendations for consideration. The Capstone project will culminate with a public presentation of findings at USMA’s Projects Day in April 2021.
The project aligns with the Army Installation Energy and Water Strategic Plan, which sets the expectation that Army installation and water infrastructure supporting critical missions in the Strategic Support Area be resilient, efficient, and affordable. As we progress toward the Army of 2028, the plan states that the Army must increase our installation energy and water resilience to anticipate and withstand future threats.
This program will have a lasting, positive impact for the Army. This opportunity will provide these future Army leaders with a greater understanding of how resilient energy and water systems support the readiness of Army installations. The cadets’ work will offer insights that may influence the design and prioritization of near-term projects. Additionally, this cadre of cadets will raise awareness of installation energy and water challenges to their classmates, and thus increase their awareness of the critical importance of energy and water resilience to Army facilities and infrastructure supporting multi-domain operations.
Follow progress of Army Energy and Sustainability Initiatives on social media:
Twitter: @ASArmyIEE, @ArmyOEI; @WestPoint_USMA, @WestpointCME
Facebook: @ASAIEE, @ArmyOEI; @WestPointUSMA, @WestpointCME