The 25th Infantry Division’s recently signed educational partnership agreement with the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH Manoa) is already sparking innovation in both the classroom and the field. A team of five UH Manoa students, known as Team Metis, collaborated with the Lightning Academy between January and May to address an operational problem familiar to many but especially relevant to America’s Pacific Division – recharging equipment during a several-day dismounted patrol through jungle canopy. While other environments can rely substantially on solar cells for energy generation, the dense nature of the canopy found in the Indo-Pacific significantly limits such options.
The problem was initially sourced by U.S. Army 1st Lt. Colin Stone, platoon leader at the Lightning Academy, for the semi-annual Hacking 4 Defense program organized by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). The Lightning Academy is the US Army’s premier pacific training center, featuring courses including Jungle Operations, Air Assault, FRIES/SPIES, Small Unit Ranger Tactics, and Rappel Master. Hacking 4 Defense is a DOD-sponsored university course that connects students to defense partners to tackle challenging tactical problems. The course allows students a deeper understanding of problems pertinent to national security and allows them to apply their newly developed technical skills in meaningful ways. Hacking 4 Defense simultaneously allows Soldiers to engage with academia in a manner that benefits their mission-set.
Allen Lum, Hangbo Zhang, Joshua Tritt, Gaila Galano, and Caleb Mueller, the members of Metis, spent the first two months meeting with 25th ID Soldiers to develop a deeper understanding of patrol operations and the associated equipment on hand. They reformulated their problem statement multiple times, eventually settling on: “given a heavy reliance on batteries in a jungle environment, how can the logistical strain imposed by battery-operated devices be reduced, and mission duration be extended?” Metis mapped out several passive and active energy generation solutions and their environmental fit. By the semester’s end, Team Metis had developed a comprehensive sixteen-page report and a custom online planning calculator designed to determine power consumption requirements and mechanisms to meet those requirements for any given patrol in a jungle environment.
Team Metis, members of the 25th ID’s newest modernization program - Lightning Labs, and faculty and staff from UH Manoa gathered on 28 April at the Entrepreneurs Sandbox in Honolulu to discuss project results and plan future collaboration. 25th ID U.S. Army Col. Jeffery Van
Antwerp, Deputy Commander, provided the keynote address, and Lightning Labs co-director U.S. Army 1st Lt. Mahdi Al-Husseini spoke as a panelist. “We are in a dangerous place in the world these days,” VanAntwerp explained, adding, “our asymmetric advantage is our allies and our partnerships … between academia and the military, between industry and the military”.
“We are constantly seeking ways to connect with the local population here in Hawaii … the connection with you, we’re going to learn a lot,” VanAntwerp continued.
One thing is clear – the relationship between 25th ID and UH Manoa is here to stay and growing stronger than ever. Three H4D problems have been sourced for the fall semester – two from C/3-25 Aviation Regiment Medical Evacuation community on hoist operations, landing zone dangers, and one from 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team on innovative medical resupply strategies across island chains.