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ASCII (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (May 12, 2021) – Dr. Andrew Wissink will be quick to tell you that although he is the leader of the Helios team, their success is a group effort.

The team of U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center engineers who created Helios was recently recognized with an ALTie award from Army AL&T magazine. Although their graphic “Turbulent Model” was a 2020 award recipient, its backstory was a decade in the making.

“The Helios team has been working on developing this software for the last 10 years,” Wissink said. “It is a combination of work on the part of the developers who built the software, but it is also evidence of the high performance computing power that the DOD has available – and how those capabilities came together to model and visualize rotorcraft phenomena we previously could only do through flight tests.”

The team, under the Technology Development Directorate umbrella, worked with the Army Corps of Engineers Engineering Research and Development Center’s Information Technology Laboratory Data Analysis and Assessment Center and the Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program, all playing a part in “Turbulent Model” and the science and engineering that created it.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Wissink, originally from Minnesota, started his career with a fellowship at NASA Ames before moving to the Department of Energy for seven years. When the opportunity to work on rotorcraft computational fluid dynamics software – what would become Helios – came available, Wissink took it. It was a chance to be on the forefront of Army rotorcraft design modernization, taking a development process that could sometimes span 30 years and streamline it to a fraction of that time.

“In my job I try to replicate (the design process) with high-fidelity computer simulation through a process called Digital Engineering with the goal of working through the complex design issues prior to putting the vehicle together and flight testing,” Wissink said. “The Army FVL (Future Vertical Lift) program is looking to deploy a whole new array of rotorcraft over the next 10 years, we cannot use the slow, drawn-out development process that we’ve used in the past if we want to keep that kind of schedule. Helios saves money but it also accelerates the schedule in terms of pursuing new innovation and configurations.”

When not at work, Wissink likes to spend time with his family in outdoors pursuits – skiing, fishing and skateboarding with his teenage son. Like most of the workforce, he is still teleworking due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But he finds it easy to go back to his home office with work as interesting as Helios.

“I love my job,” Wissink said. “I like working for the Army also from a diversity standpoint. The Army offers a lot of opportunity to work with different people from different locations around the U.S. as well as around the world. Everyone brings their own unique experiences to the table. The workforce is professional and isn’t driven by personal ambition as much as by a sense of duty.”

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The DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the Army’s research and development focal point for advanced technology in aviation and missile systems. It is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command. AvMC is responsible for delivering collaborative and innovative aviation and missile capabilities for responsive and cost-effective research, development and life cycle engineering solutions, as required by the Army’s strategic priorities and support to its Cross-Functional Teams.