NATICK, Mass. - Recently, student hires from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center got an opportunity to showcase their work during the first Annual Future Workforce Poster Presentation Event.
"This event evolved from a suggestion from Dr. Ramanathan Nagarajan [from NSRDEC] who asked if we do anything like this [the poster presentation]," said Joelle Haskell of NSRDEC's Workforce Development Team. "We were looking at different approaches and activities in support of a long-term mentoring program and his suggestion worked in perfectly. We thought it would be good for student enrichment as well."
The Workforce Development Team was amazed at the reply at the planning stages of the poster event.
"We thought we would maybe have five to 10 presentations," she said, "but we have 28 students [exhibiting]."
Adrienne Beaudoin, from the Workforce Development Team, and student at the University of Maryland, said, "This event allows students to showcase their work, and in this way Natick employees have an opportunity to discover what type of work the students are completing in such a short amount of time." She said some students do technical work, while others are more focused on the business aspect.
Aisha Bobb-Semple, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is working her first summer at the NSRDEC, has been working on non-mechanical closures.
"I'm looking at a system to try to replace Velcro," she said. She has been working with polyelectrolyte multilayers and although her preliminary results are not quite where she needs them to be, Bobb-Semple is not giving up. "I still haven't exhausted all possibilities; it's still a work in progress."
University of Massachusetts - Lowell students Matthew Bernasconi and Scott Winroth are working on reducing the environmental waste of Meal, Ready-to-Eat packaging. Their presentation was titled, Optimizing Seal Strength Integrity of Nanocomposite MRE Meal Bags.
There are two different options they are looking at, said Winroth. The first method is down-gauging the material from thick to thin and the second is using nanoclay. "We've found nanoclay can improve barrier properties," he said, "and this lets you down-gauge the interior packaging because the outer shell is now more resistant to oxygen and water."
They evaluated five different materials and found that the straight nanoclay and plastic doesn't seal as well as is needed.
"We found that a sandwiched layer is what is needed for a good sealing benefit," said Bernasconi. "The multilayer performed better."
Other projects in the combat feeding area on display included Sensory Lab Procedures, Monographs, Common Food Management System, Office of the Director, Enzymes in Lettuce and Tomatoes, and Combat Rations: From Bench Top to Field Test.
The Shelters Technology, Engineering and Fabrication Directorate had a display showing their efforts and one on Human Remain Transfer Case Testing, while the Business and Operations Directorate had a presentation on their Peer Mentoring Program and one on the new Corporate Account Management System.
A display on the Aerial Delivery Engineering Support Team was presented by the Warfighter Protection and Aerial Delivery Directorate and the Warfighter Science, Technology and Applied Research Directorate had a multitude of displays.
WarSTAR projects showcased were Ionic Interactions of Glass Fiber Filters and Cecropin P1 as an Antimicrobial Coating, Camouflage Design and Development, Ultrathin Block Copolymer Films for Chemical Vapor Detection, Adhesive Strength of Polyelectrolyte Multilayers for Use in Non-Mechanical Closures, Attachment of Aminoalkyltrimethoxysilanes to Fabric to Enhance Spore Deactivation, Reactivity Testing of Detoxifying Materials for Chemically Protective Clothing, Advanced Combat Materials and Application Development, and the Use of Surfactants to Form Thermodynamically Stable Dispersions of Carbon Nanotubes in Aqueous Solutions.
Dan Carney, chemistry major at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is spending his third summer working at Natick. He has been working on detoxifying materials for chemically protective clothing. We get to show how effective the technology is, he said.
University of Connecticut student John Eicher sees how his work applies to the field. "The work we're doing attaching aminoalkyltrimethoxysilanes to fabric helps in spore killing," he said. This helps protect Soldiers from chemical/biological threats, he explained.
"I'm excited we had such a good turnout [of attendees]," said Haskell.
Employees visiting the displays seemed impressed with the presentations and the students seemed excited to share their work.
Bobb-Semple said she's enjoying working at Natick a lot.