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Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition Supports the Future of Engineering

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

ROCHESTER, Mich. — Student engineers got a feel for real-world robotics challenges at the 28th annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC) here at Oakland University June 4-7.

The IGVC, hosted by the U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC), is the oldest and largest autonomous vehicle competition in the nation and provides students with their first professional projects as engineers.

The student competitors represent every Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-related major, and there are also opportunities for business majors to become involved.

IGVC event sponsors frequently recruit students into full-time positions upon finishing their degrees, said Bernard Theisen, GVSC’s Division Chief for Ground Vehicle Robotics, and a long-time supporter of the competition.

“If these students can use this capability to build these unmanned systems, they are the perfect recruits,” said Theisen. “Some of the teams here are taking advantage of some of our core products such as our Robotic Technology Kernel (RTK) software and Warfighter Machine Interface (WMI), used to control their vehicles.”

The competition offers students a glimpse of what it means to be an engineer for the Army. “I think IGVC has been a good catalyst for robotic development,” said Theisen.

Many GVSC engineers were recruited at previous competitions they participated in as students.

“I would say probably 30 percent of everybody in GVSC Ground Vehicle Robotics competed in the competition at one time or another,” said Theisen.

Unmanned systems allow the Soldier to operate technology from a distance, providing better protection, said Theisen. “Our primary customer is the Soldier, and robotics and autonomy help take the Soldier out of harm’s way.”

Engineers for the Army provide Soldiers with the most cutting-edge products that give them the most security on the frontlines.

“My primary goal as an engineer for the Army is to save Soldiers’ lives,” said Theisen. “I want to give them the best technology and the best capability.”

Engineers for the Army use their versatility and determination to work around the constantly changing needs of the Warfighter and it isn’t always easy, said Theisen.

“There’s a lot of ups and downs” said Theisen. “We are focused on the technology and it changes often.”

Andrew Kosinski, a mechanical engineer for GVSC Ground Vehicle Robotics, said IGVC gives students a chance to use flexibility and quick thinking to solve complications that occur before and during the competition.

“Having to be flexible is the biggest challenge that comes with being an engineer for the Army,” said Kosinski. “You have to work with a lot of different situations and people and need to be able to think on your feet.”

IGVC also provides an environment full of positivity and diversity. There are countless opportunities for networking.

“I love seeing all the teams show off from all around the world,” Kosinski said. “I love being able to talk to all sorts of unique people.”

What’s more, while IGVC gives many students a chance to learn more about Robotics Technologies and develop a passion for it— the competition is a venue for student engineers to pursue professional careers in engineering.

“The competition is the best type of job interview because you get to see people in action,” said Kosinski. “That’s why Army and various sponsors support it each year.”

More information on the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition can be found at

By Kennedy Thomas

Elbit Systems of America Awarded $29 Million in Orders Under ID/IQ Contract to Upgrade US Army Pilots’ Night Vision Systems

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – JUNE 17, 2021 – United States Army active duty and National Guard rotary-wing aviation units will receive an upgrade to their AN/AVS-6 Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging Systems (ANVIS) with high performance white phosphor image intensifier tubes to be provided by Elbit Systems of America – Night Vision. The upgrade comes through recent orders with an aggregated value of approximately $29 million by the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier under an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (ID/IQ) contract issued in 2020. The orders will be executed from the Elbit Systems of America facility in Roanoke, Virginia with deliveries through September 2021.

Under the orders, Elbit Systems of America will upgrade the U.S. Army active duty and National Guard rotary-wing aviation units’ AN/AVS-6 Aviator’s Night Vision Imaging Systems (ANVIS) with high performance white phosphor image intensifier tubes. The night vision upgrade to the U.S. Army fleet’s legacy ANVIS goggles will replace the existing green image intensification with high performance white phosphor image intensifier tubes. White phosphor enhances the ANVIS goggles as it presents visuals in black and white detail, which may appear more natural to the eye. The new image intensification tubes will also provide better contrast, along with high image resolution at greater distances for Pilots.

“Our U.S. Army Pilots can successfully achieve their mission and fly with confidence in any light conditions. Upgrading the U.S. Army aviation fleet’s goggles to high performance white phosphor provides improved clarity,” said Raanan Horowitz, President and CEO of Elbit Systems of America. “Whether Soldiers are on the ground or in the air, our team is committed to providing advanced capabilities to the U.S. Army to suit their evolving night vision needs.”

More on Elbit Systems of America – Night Vision:

Agreement Brings Soldiers, Academia Together to Solve Military Challenges

Thursday, June 17th, 2021

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Army scientists and engineers partnered with combat arms units to create closer working relationships between Soldiers and universities. The partnership between the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command and the XVIII Airborne Corps will help to solve military challenges, according to officials who met at Fort Bragg May 25.

As part of a new Congressional initiative called the Catalyst-Pathfinder program, the goal is to harness the creativity and technical skills of academic institutions and help the Army to quickly create better solutions to real problems.

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory manages the program in close partnership with the DEVCOM Armaments Center.

As part of the agreement, ARL and AC will work with the XVIII Airborne Corps, and specifically the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Divisions at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Fort Campbell, Kentucky. to strategically engage top academic institutions and team them with Soldiers in small, integrated teams focused to solve technical problems in a highly integrated manner.

“Our role at DEVCOM’s Army Research Lab is to support the Soldier, and we have a long established relationship with the XVIII Airborne Corps,” said Dr. Patrick Baker, ARL director. “We are excited to work with them on the Catalyst-Pathfinder program to accelerate learning and science through Soldier problem identification and feedback. The teaming we are doing through the Catalyst-Pathfinder program is key to operationalizing science for Army modernization.”

Universities in North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia will work with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, both under XVIII Airborne Corps, to identify and rapidly solve those problems and accelerate the transition of those solutions into the Army.

“XVIII Airborne Corps fosters a culture of innovation across all ranks, giving voice and life to novel ideas that support our people, optimize our readiness, and inform Army modernization efforts,” said Brig. Gen. Robert Ritchie, XVIII Airborne Corps. “In order to field tangible solutions fast, we are partnering with ARL through the Catalyst-Pathfinder program to connect our Soldiers with the nation’s brightest academics. These Soldier-academic teams are currently empowering the 82nd Airborne Division and the 101st Airborne Division to unleash and implement creative thoughts, technologies, and equipment. Going forward, we are really excited to deepen our integration with ARL to collaboratively innovate on behalf of the Army.”

Catalyst-Pathfinder will engage Soldiers earlier in the research and development process to make them aware of emerging research and technologies that academia can provide to help meet their needs.

Catalyst frames Soldier problems in a manner suitable for academia to identify research and emerging technologies to solve them. Pathfinder executes pilot programs, rapidly accelerating the delivery of technologies to address complex Army problems. Pathfinder uses Catalyst software to curate Army problems and executes projects building Soldier-academic teams to create solutions to those problems.

At the direction of the Army Futures Command, the Catalyst program started in March 2020 with a burgeoning partnership with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. The inaugural team members developed the program framework, produced Soldier-integrated design and development training curricula, developed support tools for execution, sourced and curated Soldier challenges and project opportunities, and identified the first project with Vanderbilt University, Soldier Assistive Bionic Exosuit for Resupply, known as SABER. This effort will evaluate physiological effects on Soldiers and optimize lift-assist technology to support logistics operational challenges of Soldiers and enhance Soldier readiness.

“Establishing ARL partnerships with Army units is critical to developing scalable approaches to Army modernization,” said Dr. Arwen DeCostanza, Catalyst-Pathfinder program manager, DEVCOM ARL. “These collaborative projects will yield discoveries and future outcomes by exploiting the creativity of Soldiers, faculty, students, industry partners and the Army science and technology community.”

By U.S. Army DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

Uniforms with Programmable Fiber Could Transmit Data and More

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Army-funded research has resulted in the development of a programmable fiber that could transmit data from Soldier uniforms.

Researchers at the Army’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed the first fiber with digital capabilities. The fiber can sense, store, analyze and infer activity when sewn into a piece of clothing.

“This groundbreaking research, with other research underway at the ISN, could revolutionize Soldier uniforms,” said Dr. James Burgess, ISN program manager for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, now known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory. “We could outfit our Soldiers with uniforms that could generate power, give them vital information about their physiology and environmental exposures, provide their location to their team and alert someone if they incur an injury. All of this could be done with very little increase in weight carried by the Soldier.”

Ultimately uniforms with this technology could power sensors, store and analyze the collected data and transmit data to outside sources.

The research, published in Nature Communications, describes how the team created the new fiber. The team placed hundreds of square silicon microscale digital chips into a preform that created a polymer fiber. By precisely controlling the polymer flow, the researchers created a fiber with continuous electrical connection between the chips over a length of tens of meters.

Until now, electronic fibers have been analog, carrying a continuous electrical signal, rather than digital, where discrete bits of information can be encoded and processed in 0s and 1s.

The fiber itself is thin and flexible and can pass through a needle, be sewn into fabrics, and washed at least 10 times without breaking down.

“When you put the fiber into a shirt, you can’t feel it at all,” said Gabriel Loke, MIT doctoral student. “You wouldn’t know it was there.”

Yoel Fink, professor in the departments of materials science and engineering and electrical engineering and computer science at MIT said that digital fibers expand the possibilities for fabrics to uncover the context of hidden patterns in the human body for physical performance monitoring, medical inference, and early disease detection.

A digital fiber can also store a lot of information in memory. The researchers were able to write, store, and read information on the fiber, including a 767-kilobit full-color short movie file and a 0.48-megabyte music file. The files can be stored for two months without power.

The fiber also takes a few steps forward into artificial intelligence by including, within the fiber memory, a neural network of 1,650 connections. After sewing it around the armpit of a shirt, the researchers used the fiber to collect 270 minutes of surface body temperature data from a person wearing the shirt, and analyzed how these data corresponded to different physical activities. Trained on these data, the fiber was able to determine with 96 percent accuracy the activity in which the person wearing the shirt was participating.

Adding an artificial intelligence component to the fiber further increases its possibilities, the researchers say. Fabrics with digital components can collect a lot of information across the body over time, and these lush data are perfect for machine learning algorithms, Loke said.

With this analytic power, the fibers someday could sense and alert Soldiers in real-time to health changes like a respiratory decline or an irregular heartbeat, or deliver muscle activation or heart rate data during training exercises. It could also provide data on any toxins Soldiers are exposed to, the length of time they are exposed, and monitor any effects those toxins have on their physiology.

The fiber is controlled by a small external device so the next step will be to design a new chip as a microcontroller that can be connected within the fiber itself.

“When we can do that, we can call it a fiber computer,” Loke said.

The U.S. Army established the MIT Institute for Nanotechnologies in 2002 as an interdisciplinary research center to dramatically improve protection, survivability and mission capabilities of the Soldier and of Soldier-supporting platforms and systems.

In addition to the Army, the, National Science Foundation, the MIT Sea Grant and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency supported this research.

By US Army DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

Happy Birthday US Army

Monday, June 14th, 2021

The Army is the United States’ first national institution, serving since 1775. Here’s to another 246 years!

Video by SGT Ian Vega-Cerezo,
32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command

National Museum of the US Army to Reopen on June 14

Monday, June 14th, 2021

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Army announced today that the National Museum of the United States Army will reopen on June 14, the Army’s 246th birthday. The museum, which is located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, officially opened in November 2020, but was closed temporarily due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“June will be a month of celebration as we recognize Army Heritage Month, the Army’s birthday and the reopening of the Army museum,” said John Whitley, acting Secretary of the Army. “As the museum tells the history of our American Soldiers and honors their accomplishments and sacrifices, we will also reflect on their more recent service to our nation, including their contributions to COVID-19 and disaster-relief efforts, and the protection they provide us all.”

The Museum is the first comprehensive and truly national museum to capture, display and interpret the Army’s history by telling stories through the eyes of Soldiers. Its displays and interactive-learning exhibits illustrate the Army’s role in building and defending our nation, as well as Army humanitarian missions and technological and medical breakthroughs built on Army ingenuity.

In addition to the galleries and exhibits, the museum features a multisensory 300-degree theater, a tranquil rooftop garden and hundreds of historic treasures rarely or never-before-seen by the public.

Free, timed-entry tickets are now available through the museum’s website at All tickets must be reserved in advance online, and there is a limit of five tickets per request.

The timed-entry tickets are part of the museum’s comprehensive plan, developed according to guidance from the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Army’s Public Health Center, to protect the health of its visitors and staff.

For more information, including an interactive map, a list of exhibits, educational programs, a special events calendar and more, please visit

By US Army Public Affairs

What Do You Call It?

Saturday, June 12th, 2021

Did you refer to the Standard Form 65-C (Large) as a Shotgun Envelope or Holey Joe?

FN Wins US Army Contract to Build M240 Machine Guns and Spare Receivers

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

(McLean, VA – June 10, 2021) FN America, LLC is pleased to announce that the company has been awarded a firm-fixed-price contract to supply the U.S. Army with M240 series machine gun variants and spare receivers. The contract, awarded through 2026, is multi-faceted and will support both the U.S. Army and other Department of Defense (DoD) programs.

“The U.S. Army contract for the M240 machine gun was the first military contract FN was awarded and the first to be produced from our production facility in South Carolina,” noted Mark Cherpes, President and CEO for FN America, LLC. “We’re incredibly honored to continue our relationship with the Army, supporting them with high quality and reliable weapon systems for our servicemen and women.”

The M240 general purpose machine gun, derived from the FN MAG 58, was adopted by the U.S. military in the late 1970s, and has been in continual service since being introduced. This contract provides a procurement vehicle for the US Army to purchase multiple variants of the M240 machine gun, including the M240 coaxial, the M240B, M240L, M240D and M240H models.

Throughout its history, FN has been one of the largest suppliers of small arms to the U.S. military and continues to develop innovative, future technology. In addition to the M240 and its variants, the company currently holds contracts for the FN M249 lightweight machine gun; the FN MK 46, MK 48, MK 17, and MK 20 SSR for USSOCOM, and various other contracts.

For more information about FN’s military product line or current U.S. military contracts, please visit