The Marne Innovations Program Solves Modern Problems with Modern Solutions
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U. S. Army Soldiers from 3rd Infantry Division, along with cadets from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the U.S. Military Academy, discuss problem sets as part of the first Marne Innovation Workshop at Georgia Institute of Technology Jan. 6, 2022, in Atlanta. The opening events included a tour, team-building exercise, and a briefing as participants prepare to begin a six-month collaboration where they will work on challenges identified by 3rd ID Soldiers in survey. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Daniel Thompson/50th Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: Spc. Daniel Thompson) VIEW ORIGINAL
The Marne Innovations Program Solves Modern Problems with Modern Solutions
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U. S. Army 1st Lt. Chris Aliperti, an infantry officer assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, speaks during his group’s presentation on the final day of the first Marne Innovation Workshop at Georgia Institute of Technology Jan. 9, 2022, in Atlanta. The Marne Innovation Workshop was designed to help identify and solve units’ problems faster. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Daniel Thompson/50th Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: Spc. Daniel Thompson) VIEW ORIGINAL
The Marne Innovations Program Solves Modern Problems with Modern Solutions
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U. S. Army Soldiers from 3rd Infantry Division, along with cadets from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the U.S. Military Academy, begin the first Marne Innovation Workshop with a team-building exercise at Georgia Institute of Technology Jan. 6, 2022, in Atlanta. The opening events included a tour, team-building exercise, and a briefing as participants prepare to begin a six month collaboration where they will work on challenges identified by 3rd ID Soldiers in survey. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Daniel Thompson/50th Public Affairs Detachment) (Photo Credit: Spc. Daniel Thompson) VIEW ORIGINAL

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “small minds discuss people; average minds discuss events; and great minds discuss ideas.”

The Marne Innovations Program is the 3rd Infantry Division's place for great minds to excel while hopefully making a lasting impact on the Army as a whole.

“We’re trying to provide Soldiers on the line an avenue to take problems they experience every day and voice possible solutions,” said 1st Lt. Chris Aliperti, 3rd ID deputy innovations officer. “We also try to give Soldiers an opportunity to give their input for products and tools they use every day, because the Soldiers are the products’ end user.”

The Marne Innovations Program started in June 2021 and punctuated its inception by signing an educational partnership agreement with the Georgia Institute of Technology in August of that year. The program identifies current capability gaps within the 3rd ID then works with industry and academic partners to rapidly identify, develop, and implement solutions while fostering a culture of a bottom-up innovation; solving today's problems with today's technology.

The 3rd ID is currently on a modernization path that includes new equipment, weapons and vehicles across the division. The Marne Innovations Program complements this modernization push by focusing on enhancing and broadening its Soldiers intellectually through new industry and academic partnerships, and in new directions for problems.

“When we first started this program, we tried to work along three main lines of effort: increase brigade lethality, give time back to Soldiers, and create a culture of innovation,” said Aliperti. “Our ultimate goal is to get ideas from head to hand as quickly as possible.”

An example of the program’s recent successes was when a Soldier assigned to 3rd ID identified that the current tank tow bar is too rigid. He explained that if one tank needs to tow another and the two tank tow bars aren’t perfectly lined up, both tow bars cannot handle the stress and could ultimately fail. During wartime, every second can be crucial, and Soldiers' safety is vulnerable if their tanks are stuck in the mud. This 3rd ID Soldier wanted to improve the tow bar with an idea he had, so he worked with the Marne Innovations Program to present his idea to an engineering class at Georgia Institute of Technology where a group of six students chose this problem set and solution as their capstone project.

These students then worked alongside 3rd ID Soldiers to develop this Soldier’s idea further into a prototype. They published their report and presented their findings at a Georgia Tech Capstone Expo. The team soon plans to produce a full-scale steel prototype that they can attach to a tank. Another graduate student at Georgia Tech is currently designing a testing and evaluation plan for the tow bar to be used at Fort Stewart on a real tank and receive feedback from the Soldiers using it. All of this innovation began with one Soldier voicing his concern over the practical problems he faced while working with his equipment at his everyday job.

The Marne Innovations Program here at Fort Stewart is one of only a handful of innovation programs across the military. The program works in close coordination with XVIII Airborne Corps.

“We curate problems and solutions here at Fort Stewart to bring them to Dragon’s Lair at XVIII Airborne Corps with the hope of furthering them with funding,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Wilder, the Marne Innovations team manager.

Dragon’s Lair serves as the Marne Innovations Program’s shark tank. It is the Corps’ innovation competition where Soldiers propose a problem and a solution and present it to a panel of experts. This panel is tasked with selecting a certain number of innovative ideas, which will be presented to a panel of experts from the Army Future’s Command in Austin, Texas. Finalists will be endorsed and gain financial backing and support to create, test, and eventually patent a prototype for all of the Army to use.

One of the program’s successes in creating a culture of innovation has been the Marne Innovations team’s efforts in putting together a makerspace for Soldiers to flesh out their ideas and create a prototype.

Wilder described 3rd ID’s makerspace as every mechanical engineer’s dream. In only four months, the team has been able to equip their makerspace with 3D printing capabilities, computer art designing capabilities, and even hired a mechanical engineering expert to be available to Soldiers throughout the day to coach them with their ideas. The program also hopes to have 3D scanning capabilities within the next few months.

Innovation fosters a culture of development for Soldiers by giving them technical skills learned through education while also giving time back to the Soldiers so they can focus on honing lethality. Those benefits contribute to any mission the Marne Division receives, whether it’s deploying, conducting garrison operations, or modernizing the force. As modernization continues across the Division, the Marne Innovations Program will provide Soldiers an outlet to see their innovative ideas turned into reality.