HOUSTON – What do NASA, Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians and remote-control cars have in common?
U.S. Army EOD technicians recently participated in the NASA Robotics Bomb Tech Workshop at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Spc. Brayden D. Cooper and 1st Lt. Parker S. Peterson represented the Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri-based 763rd Ordnance Company (EOD) at the workshop that was hosted by NASA and the Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate.
The 763rd EOD Company “Ozark Bandits” are part of the 242nd EOD Battalion, 71st EOD Group and 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier multifunctional all hazards formation.
Soldiers and U.S. Army civilians from 20th CBRNE Command deploy from 19 bases in 16 states to tackle the world’s most dangerous hazards in support of joint, interagency and allied operations.
The 763rd EOD Company not only supports military operations around the world but it also responds when unexploded military munitions are found both on and off post in Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota.
The NASA workshop brought together EOD technicians from the different military services as well as high school senior robotics students and NASA employees.
During the workshop, the participants used remote control cars to identify explosive hazards.
“What I appreciated most about the workshop was the opportunity to learn from individuals of a wide variety of fields, backgrounds and expertise,” said Peterson, a platoon leader from the 763rd EOD Company. “I learned not only about robotics but also about NASA’s capabilities and what it can be like to work on an interdisciplinary team.”
Peterson said the workshop increased his knowledge on the many ways that robots can be used to accomplish his high stakes mission.
“This workshop helped me to better understand the considerations involved with utilizing a robotic platform to take on a real-world challenge,” said Peterson, a three-year Army veteran from Kirksville, Missouri. “I came away from the workshop with a better understanding of the possibilities that robotics pose for Army EOD.”
Cooper said he assisted with putting together components and learned about programming the remote-control cars.
“The highlight of the NASA Robotics Workshop would have to be getting exposure to all the technology and knowledge that the people who I worked alongside with brought to the table,” said Cooper. “The knowledge I’ve learned will be beneficial to the company.”
Cooper was selected by his company leadership to participate in the NASA Bomb Tech Workshop because he recently completed one of the U.S. Army’s most demanding schools – the Air Assault School on Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
A native of Winslow, Indiana, the specialist is used to accepting and succeeding at tough tasks. That is why he decided to become an Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician.
“I heard it was a challenging school so I thought it would be very interesting to test myself on going through the course,” said Cooper. “I would without a doubt recommend EOD to others. It is a fascinating and vital job in the military. You also get a lot of unique experiences that come with this job as well.”
Cooper plans to earn his bachelor’s degree and to take on new opportunities in the U.S. Army.
According to 1st Sgt. James R. Bohanon, the senior enlisted leader from the 763rd EOD Company, Cooper has demonstrated a commitment to excellence. The 71st EOD Group “Raptors” and 242nd EOD Battalion “War Falcons” recently selected Cooper as the “Raptor of the Week.”
“In a very short time, he has proven himself by working hard, having a good attitude, learning from everything he does and graduating from Air Assault School,” said Bohanon, an 18-year veteran from Belleville, Illinois, who has deployed to Afghanistan once and Iraq four times.
Bohanon said the NASA Bomb Tech Workshop was a great opportunity for his EOD techs to hone their lifesaving and mission-enabling skills.
“When you boil it down, EOD techs are problem solvers,” said Bohanon. “What better way to practice this by integrating a bunch of folks that don’t know each other into a room with unknown equipment and challenging them to solve a problem. They are better prepared to use robotics to solve problems we encounter in performing our daily duties.”