Archive for the 'Technology' Category

Disabled Veterans Transition to STEM Fields

Aug 26 2014

CathedralofLearningReturning from the battlefield isn’t always easy – and trying to fill in the holes, referred to as “Swiss cheese” by one veteran, can make the transition even harder.

Now there’s a program at the University of Pittsburgh that gives veteran students living and housing stipends, and enrolls them in a program called ELeVATE (Experiential Learning for Veterans in Assistive Technology and Engineering). Veteran mentors help the students through rehabilitation research in STEM fields for academic credit.

Inside HigherEd describes the program this way:

But addressing other problems – such as an inability to relate to non-veteran peers, or cognitive and physical disabilities caused by injury – requires painstaking day-to-day work.

Such work is happening at the University of Pittsburgh, where a college transition program for disabled veterans interested in STEM disciplines has earned the admiration of national student veterans’ groups…

…The lab specializes in assistive technology – devices for people with disabilities — and receives funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Rory Cooper, the lab’s director, is an Army veteran who sustained a spinal cord injury while serving.

All the participants have cognitive or physical impairments – most commonly traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. The program, called ELeVATE (Experiential Learning for Veterans in Assistive Technology and Engineering) began in summer 2011, with the help of a $470,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. Five or six veterans participate each year. The fourth group of participants finished the program at the end of July…

qoltcThe program at the University of Pittsburgh has gained the backing of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the notice of the American Legion. Hopefully ELeVATE will successfully help integrate disabled veterans into STEM fields, and become a model for other universities in the future!

Cathedral of Learning (9279174346)” by Brandon SheaCathedral of Learning Uploaded by crazypaco. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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Mil Tech — Stealthy Hybrid Electric Motorcycle Under Development

Aug 04 2014

Published by under Technology

The hybrid electric bike is being developed in partnership with BRD Motorcycles, an all-electric motorcycle manufacturer in San Francisco. The new platform will combine Logos Technologies’ quieted, multi-fuel hybrid-electric power system with a cutting-edge off-road electric motorcycle design being developed by BRD.

The RedShift MX motorcycle will form the basis for the design of the silent, stealthy all-electric motorcycle for the U.S. military.

The RedShift MX motorcycle will form the basis for the design of the silent, stealthy all-electric motorcycle for the U.S. military.

Logos Technologies of Fairfax, Va., has received a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) research grant to develop a hybrid-electric motorcycle with near-silent capability for the U.S. military. The motorcycle would allow small military teams to move long distances quickly and stealthily across harsh terrain.

Marc Fenigstein, chief executive officer of BRD, says his company’s consumer RedShift MX model is the vehicle on which the military bike will be based. “The RedShift MX is a professional level motorcycle platform designed for motocross racing,” he notes, “which is one of the most abusive environments possible for a motorcycle with dust, mud, massive ruts, and bumps and jumps of over 100 feet on some tracks.”

Wade Pulliam, manager of advanced concepts for Logos Technologies, points out Logos has a hybrid-electric propulsion system that’s already been proven on a prior aircraft program, and the fact that the RedShift MX already is in a low rate of production, will give the project a head start toward field deployment.

Pulliam says the hybrid bike easily can maintain a range of 100 miles between refuels and, while operating in near-silent, all-electric mode, is capable of traveling a “militarily significant” proportion of its full range (as requested by DARPA).

With regard to noise-level requirements, the hybrid bike must maintain a 75 decibel level at 7 meters during normal operation.

“To put that in perspective,” Pulliam notes, “that is roughly the same volume as a telephone’s dial tone in a listener’s ear. When the bike is running solely on electric power, the noise level will drop significantly to just the sound of the tires.”

Fenigstein points out a major advantage of the vehicle’s hybrid drive train is that range isn’t limited by battery capacity.

“Think ‘range-extended electric’ like a Chevy Volt,” he says, “except that on this bike, the operator is using the 100-percent-electric mode for tactical reasons rather than efficiency.”

Pulliam adds that another interesting feature of the bike is it can be a supply of auxiliary power for personnel in the field.

 “This was one of the critical insights made by DARPA,” he says. “More and more, we are seeing electronic technology on the battlefield, from tablets and sensor systems to night vision systems. We plan to make it possible for our bike to allow operators in the field to recharge their devices from the battery.”

Pulliam says the hybrid bike could serve as a mobility option for the U.S. Marine Corps as it implements its plan to move to small units covering larger areas, and the bike also could be tactically beneficial for Special Forces who can be inserted with their bikes via aircraft, like helicopters or V-22 Ospreys, and be able to close the distance to an objective rapidly, switching to silent mode for the final leg of the approach to maintain speed as well as an element of surprise.

“It also would allow for patrols and excursions outside of forward operating or fire bases more quickly and at greater range than on foot,” Pulliam says, “and much more quietly than in other vehicles.”

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.


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Mil Tech — Hemostatic Sponge Seals Combat Wounds

Jul 07 2014

Published by under Technology

An Oregon company recently won approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for XStat, a hemostatic device for treating gunshot and shrapnel wounds on the battlefield.

RevMedX of Wilsonville, Ore., developed XStat to control bleeding in body areas like the groin, which are not amenable to the application of a tourniquet.

XStat works by injecting a group of small, rapidly expanding sponges into a wound cavity using a syringe-like applicator. In the wound, the sponges expand and swell to fill the cavity within 20 seconds of contact with blood, creating a temporary barrier to blood flow and providing hemostatic pressure.

John Steinbaugh, RevMedX’s vice president of strategic development, says XStat traces its beginnings to a combat dressing invented by Oregon Biomedical Engineering Institute (OBEI). U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) wanted the organization to develop a combat pressure dressing, so OBEI formed RevMedX to handle the final development and production of XStat, he says.

XStat comes in two versions — XStat-30 for large shrapnel or rifle round wounds and XStat-12 for pistol round or smaller shrapnel wounds, Steinbaugh says. Steinbaugh is a retired U.S. Army master sergeant with 25 years’ experience, 20 of them as a Special Forces medic with more than 50 months of combat experience during his career.

XStat-30 is 5-1/4-inches long and designed so the device’s handle stores inside the applicator. XStat-12 is a smaller device that uses the same sponge size but comes in a pack of three, which are equal to one XStat-30.

“The handle is a stainless-steel rod about 7/8-inch in diameter that slides inside the tube, but when you pull it back it locks onto open onto a disc,” Steinbaugh says. “The tip of the XStat opens like a valve, so there’s no prep needed on the part of the medic.”

Steinbaugh points out the XStat uses a proprietary type of sponge that’s compressed down to about 3 mm in size from its 50-mm original size.

“When it makes contact with fluid, such as blood in a groin wound, it expands to 15 times its size, jamming tightly into the bleeding wound,” Steinbaugh notes. “It applies very firm force to the walls of the wound, which applies constant pressure to the artery.”

Steinbaugh says the big difference between XStat and other combat gauze products is that with other gauzes, when the medic takes his hand away there’s no more pressure on the wound and bleeding resumes. The medic has to hold pressure on other gauze products until the wound clots.

Because XStat expands and puts its own pressure on the wound, he says, if the wound begins to re-bleed, the blood will hit sponges that haven’t already expanded, which will stop the re-bleed. Only about one-third of XStat’s sponges expand on initial contact with a bleeding wound.

Steinbaugh says RevMedX is in the process of ramping up manufacturing and “is working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Army so we can deliver enough product for them. USSOCOM will get the first order.”

RevMedX also has spun off the technology to develop X-Gauze, which uses the same sponge technology embedded into gauze. It can be used on any wound where it’s necessary to pack gauze to stem bleeding and has similar pressure qualities to XStat. Steinbaugh envisions X-Gauze versions being developed for the U.S. military, law enforcement and emergency medical services (EMS) use.

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.


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Drone Crashes in the U.S.

Jul 03 2014

Published by under Technology

A new story in the Washington Post, “Crashes mount as military flies more drones in U.S.” brings up an interesting discussion surrounding what could be considered an experimental new policy- drone use in the U.S.

391px-QF-100_target_drones_at_Tyndall_AFB_1986The number of accidents has jumped as the military has brought back drones from overseas and operated them more frequently in airspace shared with civilian planes. The military has almost tripled the number of hours its drones have flown annually in shared U.S. airspace since 2011, according to federal data…

Accident investigation documents show that 47 military drones crashed in the United States between 2001 and 2013 in what the military categorized as Class A accidents — the most severe category. The Pentagon is planning to expand drone operations to at least 110 bases in 39 states by 2017.

Drones seem to be a safer way for the military to locate or destroy intended targets, though with the use at home only increasing, more and more civilians are starting to see the other side to this argument.

What do you think about drone use in the United States? Safe? Questionable but needed? Let us know in the comments!


18 U.S. Air Force QF-100D/F Super Sabre target drones at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida (USA), for the air-to-air weapons meet “William Tell ’86” on 10 October 1986. Photo via Wikimedia Commons, uploaded by U.S. DefenseImagery. Taken by TSgt. Lou Hernandez, USAF. Public domain.

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Mil Tech — Davis-Monthan AFB’s Solar Project

Jun 24 2014

Published by under Technology

Solar Array Ribbon Cutting

Fifty-seven thousand solar panels capable of generating 16.4 megawatts of direct current renewable power have been installed at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Ariz., in what’s being called the world’s largest U.S. military solar project.

The project, known as the Renewable Energy Power Purchase (REPP) agreement for Solar PV Array, was financed, designed, and installed by Sun Edison, which also monitors and maintains the array. A total of 170 acres at the base are covered with the solar panels and their associated equipment — 50 acres at the Chevron area and 120 acres at the West Airfield.

Through the REPP, the U.S. Air Force was not responsible for providing any capital costs for the project. Davis-Monthan AFB provides the land for the array in the form of a 25-year lease and purchases the power generated by the photovoltaic array.

Construction of the array finished in December 2013, and the array began producing power in January.

“On a normal workday this spring, March 24, the entire base was powered off the solar array,” says Greg Noble, Davis-Monthan energy manager. “The array produces 31.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, which is enough to power about 3,000 homes. That’s enough to meet about 35 percent of the base’s annual electricity requirements.”

Noble points out the 57,000 solar panels use a single axis tracker system that tracks the sun across the sky in 15-minute increments. At night, the panels store flat facing the sky, then rotate in the morning to maximize the output of the sun.

Davis-Monthan still gets a monthly electric bill from Tucson Electric Power Corp., the area electric utility, but Noble notes “it is significantly reduced based on the particular month.” The Air Force base also gets a second bill from Sun Edison for the monthly power it uses from the solar array.

Noble says there is a big difference in the cost of the power provided through the solar array compared to that provided by the electric utility.

“We pay 7.66 cents per kilowatt hour to Tucson Electric Power for a melded rate throughout the year,” he says. “Our purchase power agreement with Sun Edison is 4.5 cents per kilowatt hour during the first year with a 1.5-percent annual escalator in the rate.”

Noble says the base anticipates it will save $500,000 a year because of the solar array.

Nationwide, the U.S. Air Force is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, spending more than $9 billion annually in electricity and fuel costs. It has worked to reduce energy consumption through various initiatives, including renewable energy sources such as the Davis-Monthan solar array, with a stated goal to increase the Air Force’s renewable energy consumption to 25 percent by 2025.

“When you look at the money saved over 25 years, its incredible and also critical to our mission, not only to Davis-Monthan but also to the Department of Defense,” says Col. Kevin E. Blanchard, 355th Fighter Wing commander at Davis-Monthan. “We are looking across the DoD right now for every avenue that we can find to save money and put that money into readiness and sustainment of our force. By saving money on Davis-Monthan’s electric bill, that will help the future of our Air Force, the greatest air force in the world.”

Davis-Monthan AFB isn’t a stranger to solar installations. The base has a number of 10 kilowatt and 20 kilowatt rooftop and ground mounted solar systems on dormitories and other housing, Noble observes.

“The majority of our MilCon construction is commercial and industrial,” he says, including structures such as hangars, simulators, pump housing and administrative buildings. These structures also use an assortment of rooftop and ground mounted arrays and all are built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Status.

Noble points out there is another environmental element to the base’s solar array project — it saves 16 million gallons of water annually that would have gone into a cooling tower at a Tucson Electric Power generating plant to produce electricity that would have been consumed by the base.

About the author: Alan M. Petrillo is a Tucson, Ariz., journalist who writes for national and regional magazines and newspapers. He’s also the author of the mystery, Full Moon, books on historical military small arms, and the nonfiction work, Ice Hockey in the Desert.


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