ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md -- Army engineers spent four days in Anchorage, Alaska, June 4-7, training Soldiers on portable, renewable power systems that enable extended missions in remote locations.
Soldiers from the 6th Engineer Battalion and the 723rd MP Battalion received hands on instruction from engineers from the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command's communications-electronics center, or CERDEC, as they operated the Re-using Existing Natural Energy Wind and Solar System and the Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power System, or RENEWS and REPPS.
RENEWS is a portable system that utilizes natural wind and solar energy to generate power and REPPS is a wearable system of solar panels for power generation. Both systems are designed to provide a power source for a Soldier's electronic devices in remote combat locations.
"The ability for units to passively charge or recharge their battery systems through a portable system can fill a substantial power generation capability gap," said 1st Lt. Charles Mangum of the 6th Engineer Battalion. "The system has the potential to reduce the basic load of batteries required to be transported with patrols by providing the ability to recharge batteries on the go."
By working directly with Soldiers, engineers can get real-time feedback about system performance.
"The main thing we look for is how they feel about the systems functionality and ease of use --what do they like and what don't they like," said David Teicher, an alternative energy engineer from CERDEC's Command Power and Integration Directorate. "They can provide us with information about whether or not they feel the systems can benefit them in the field."
Training Soldiers to use a certain technology before deployment allows the Soldier to learn in a non-combat environment and makes the Soldier a knowledgeable source once he does deploy.
"When they receive the system overseas they will have a strong grasp on the functionality, how to set them up and will be able to start using them right away," said Teicher. "This [training] essentially makes them the 'experts' on the system and they can teach other units how to use it."
Assessments from the Soldiers during the demonstrations and in surveys after the training provide useful information for CP&I engineers. The evaluations and suggestions will be used to develop further improvements to the systems.
"Soldiers, specifically those with deployment experience, are adept at finding creative ways of using technology," said Mangum. "Putting that new product in the hands of the Soldiers who are 'getting it done' every day brings a more utilitarian prospective to the demonstration. The Soldier will push the product to find its limitations."
Engineers will research Soldier suggestions for the systems, such as integration with other systems and different set-up and tear-down sequences, to determine if further development is possible, said Teicher.