By Chris RasmussenJuly 13, 2007
FORT JACKSON, S.C. - Fort Jackson's Wheel Vehicle Mechanic School is transforming how it teaches Soldiers to maintain Humvees by using computer technology that makes each part of the vehicle "come alive."
The training aid, known as NGRAIN, is an interactive 3-D simulator that allows instructors to show each of the vehicle's parts up close without having to take an actual Humvee apart.
"We are not at a point where we can get all of the trucks out of the classroom," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Harvey Jackson, director of the 187th Ordnance Battalion Wheel Vehicle Mechanic School.
"The generation we have today are the Xbox guys and they know how to operate and relate to a computer.
"This simulation can do everything a truck will do, without needing all of the trucks," he said. "This saves money and allows us to train more Soldiers."
Jackson, who spearheaded the Humvee simulation program, was awarded the Department of Defense Modeling and Simulation Award in the training category in May.
This is the first time the award has been presented to an individual rather than a group.
The idea for the 3-D simulation training aid began in 2006 when a gap in Humvee mechanic training was identified.
Army mechanics were missing a small step in the work instruction for a common procedure on the Humvee geared hub spindle. As a result, there was an increased risk of the wheel detaching when driven, endangering Soldier safety and mission success.
Jackson reviewed the Humvee mechanics training curriculum and identified the need to augment the training with a way to more clearly show the problem.
Aware of the success Fort Leonard Wood's Maneuver Support Center (Missouri) was having using 3-D simulation in ground vehicle maintenance training, Jackson had an instructor use the NGRAIN software to create a 3-D animation of the procedure.
"As a result of Jackson's efforts," said Lt. Col Kerry MacIntyre, commander 187th Ordnance Battalion "commanders in the field saw an immediate reduction in the occurrence of a previously common problem with Humvees, as well as greater availability of the vehicle."
The program was integrated into the Humvee mechanic training course in March 2006, Jackson said. Within weeks of adding the 3-D simulations to the training course, Jackson said he began receiving calls from unit commanders asking, "What did you change' These mechanics are better prepared than in the past."