NATICK, Mass. – Innovative solutions to real-world challenges were on full display at the second annual Warfighter Innovation in Science and Engineering (WISE) challenge, a virtual event held on April 26–27. The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, or DEVCOM SC, organized and hosted the team-based, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) competition.
Five prestigious academies came together to compete at the event. Cadets/Midshipmen from the United States Military Academy (USMA), the United States Naval Academy (USNA), the United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA), the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), and the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) presented their projects that addressed service-specific challenges. Twelve teams from the academies competed.
Douglas Tamilio, the director of DEVCOM SC, conceived and sponsored the event, which was approved by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology.
“The WISE Challenge is an incredibly important event for the Department of Defense,” said Tamilio. “It fosters innovation. It inspires creativity, and it enables collaboration among the services. It brings together seasoned professionals and emerging young talent from the academies to help us solve hard problems that each of the services faces.”
Michael Codega, DEVCOM SC’s chief technology officer, hosted the event.
“The Warfighter Innovation in Science and Engineering Challenge is a great way for the cadets and midshipmen at our nation’s academies to showcase their talent and abilities,” said Codega.
A panel of esteemed judges evaluated the submitted solutions/projects for innovation, technical approach/analysis, operational impact to the Warfighter, and how well the idea was communicated to the audience. Projects ranged from additive manufacturing of ceramic materials to a remote operated weapons station to robotic infiltration of underground facilities – to name just a few of the innovative solutions to real-world challenges.
DEVCOM SC’s Elizabeth McCoy, who oversaw the coordination of the WISE Challenge, views the competition as a conduit to encourage increased networking between participating service academies and DOD stakeholders.
The event culminated in an award ceremony hosted by DEVCOM SC.
Two projects won honorable mention, including USMMA’s “Maritime Applications of Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing” and USCGA’s “Climate Change, Ships, & Bering Sea: Using an Open-source Machine Learning Tool to Predict the Future Distribution of Commercial Fishing Vessels.”
Third prize was awarded to the USMA’s project, “Molecular Countermeasures Project (Drug Discovery).”
In a surprise twist at the awards ceremony, judges did not select a second place winner but instead selected two projects in a tie for first place.
USAFA’s project, “Morphing Missile for Hypersonic Missile Defense,” won first place, as did USNA’s project, “DDG Tie Down Redesign.”
“The participation, creativity, and level of innovation and academic achievement is really just incredible,” said Codega. “What these cadets and midshipmen represent is the future of our military and our nation. Based on this, I would say that the future is looking very bright indeed.”
About DEVCOM Soldier Center: The DEVCOM Soldier Center is committed to discovering, developing, and advancing science and technology solutions that ensure America’s warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. DEVCOM Soldier Center supports all of the Army's Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the DEVCOM Soldier Center’s chief areas of focus. The center’s science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. DEVCOM Soldier Center is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers’ performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) outreach and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers is also an important part of the mission of DEVCOM Soldier Center. The mentoring of students by Army scientists and engineers benefits the students and their communities. It also increases young people's awareness of potential Army job opportunities and helps provide the Army with potential new talent, helping to fuel innovative ideas that benefit the nation's warfighters and the nation as a whole.
DEVCOM Soldier Center is part of DEVCOM. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.