West Point cadets assist IAAAP and learn about the OIB

By Matthew Wheaton, Joint Munitions Command, Public and Congressional AffairsFebruary 20, 2024

West Point cadets assist IAAAP and learn about the OIB
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Prototype robot grippers, which hold and move 1/8 scale 155-milimeter shells, were developed by West Point cadets for use at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant. (Daniel Doscher, West Point Military Academy) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL
West Point cadets assist IAAAP and learn about the OIB
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The Warehouse Automated Robots multidisciplinary team, comprised of West Point cadets, is working to transform the 155-millimeter round production line of the historic Iowa Army Ammunition Plant into a state-of-the-art facility equivalent to modern factories. Pictured, left to right, back row: Cadet Barbara Antwi, Cadet Johan Pretorius, Cadet Drake Ott, and Cadet Chris White. Front row: Cadet Andrew Medrano, Cadet John Ku, Cadet Walter Pack, and Cadet Jaire Alford. (Daniel Doscher, West Point Military Academy) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Warehouse Automated Robots project at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant is poised to bring a transformative impact on military innovation and defense strategy.

Cadets from the U.S. Military Academy’s Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering are involved in the endeavor at IAAAP, a subordinate of the Joint Munitions Command.

“The partnership with West Point enables aspiring professionals to gain a better understanding and appreciation for the Organic Industrial Base while simultaneously providing solutions to the installation,” said Lt. Col. John Dunlapp, IAAAP’s commander. “The cadets from West Point gain an appreciation for the munition supply channels, while increasing efficiency with our daily operations.”

IAAAP, located in Middletown, Iowa, has been a part of the nation’s munition landscape since the 1940s and is the center of excellence for medium- and large-caliber munitions design and production for the Warfighter.

Some of the production processes at IAAAP have seen minimal changes since World War II. The primary objective of the WAR project is to modernize IAAAP, a facility that has operated at maximum capacity for decades.

“The project originated with an effort to automate inert storage for the 40-millimeter program at IAAAP in 2020,” said Randy Doyle, Chief of the Operations Support Division at IAAAP. “The Project Director Joint Services entered into an agreement with West Point and funded the effort with the West Point Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering.

“It’s very exciting to see and witness the investment that our Army is putting into the USMA Cadets,” Doyle added. “I’m an old Soldier and thought the accomplishments we are seeing and using come from an invisible warehouse in the sky, and boy was I wrong.”

The WAR project at IAAAP, which is funded through the 2024 academic year, seeks to automate key elements, thereby improving manufacturing efficiency and replenishing the United States' strategic reserve of 155 mm shells. With the introduction of automation, this involves streamlining processes and encompasses picking up rounds off pallets and orienting them for stamping, labeling, and machining.

“This project exposes cadets to the realities of engineering in an industrial setting. They are drawing upon all the skills they have developed in their engineering programs,” said Daniel Doscher, an assistant professor and advisor with CME. “They are forced to adapt these skills in ways they have not been exposed to in the classroom. This gives them real-world experience on what obstacles need to be overcome and what other risks they need to account for in a real-world engineering project. Working with the teams at IAAAP and PDJS also gives them valuable experience interacting with external stakeholders and customers.”