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Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Soldier Center, Harvard Collaborate to Advance Soldier Technologies

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

NATICK, Mass. — The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center is working with Harvard University to research a wide range of technologies to enhance Soldier protection and performance. Soldier knowledge and input are playing a key role in the partnership.

“The collaboration between the CCDC Soldier Center and Harvard University will help identify and address capability gaps to better meet the needs of Soldiers and will help to get new critical capabilities into the hands of our Soldiers more quickly,” said Douglas Tamilio, director of the CCDC Soldier Center. “Research will also benefit immensely from the ingenuity of both organizations and from the added insight made possible by the involvement of former and current Soldiers throughout the research, development, engineering and testing process.”

The CCDC Soldier Center is dedicated to using science and technology to ensure America’s warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. CCDC SC supports all of the Army’s Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the CCDC SC’s chief areas of focus. The center’s science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance.

The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. CCDC SC is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers’ performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.

Some of the research being performed by Harvard and CCDC SC comes under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, or CRADA, between CCDC SC and Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, or Harvard SEAS.

“The Master CRADA will provide a streamlined way for the organizations to collaborate in diverse areas of mutual interest and leverage each other’s expertise,” said Sheri Mennillo, CCDC SC’s technology transfer manager who helped develop the Master CRADA between Harvard and CCDC SC.

Dr. Kevin “Kit” Parker is the technical point of contact for Harvard for the CRADA. Parker is the Tarr

Family Professor of the Bioengineering and Applied Physics Disease Biophysics Group, Wyss Institute for Biologically-Inspired Engineering, at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. Parker, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, is also a professor in the department of Chemical and Life Sciences at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Parker and other scientists in his lab are working closely with the Soldier Center.

“Collaboration with academia is a critical means by which we at Soldier Center can ensure that we can provide truly innovative ways to increase Soldier lethality,” said Dr. Richard Green, director of the Soldier Protection and Survivability Directorate at the CCDC Soldier Center. “The Soldier Center is located near some of the premier academic research institutions in the world, and we regularly engage with local universities and universities that are farther away to help enable solutions that may not have been thought possible in the past. Through collaborations, such as our collaboration with Kit Parker’s lab at Harvard, we learn more about the art of the possible, and academia gets a better understanding of challenges the Army faces as we work to modernize for the future fight.”

“Academic collaborations, especially those with distinguished local universities such as Harvard, provide CCDC SC the opportunity to leverage cutting-edge expertise and facilities to augment our own R&D capabilities,” said Dr. Kathleen Swana, a researcher at CCDC SC. “CCDC SC, in return, provides valuable scientific and Soldier-centric expertise and testing capabilities to help drive the research forward. Dr. Kit Parker’s experience and technical prowess also provide a unique perspective on potential science and technology solutions for the Soldier, and I look forward to seeing the outcome of future collaborations with his lab.”

The spark for the initial idea for the partnership came about when Parker and Brian Wood, the G-8 budget officer at CCDC SC and formerly a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, were attending a Pacific Operational Science and Technology meeting. Parker and Wood realized the many potential benefits of CCDC SC working with Harvard to advance technologies for the Soldier. Both men served in the same unit in the U.S. Army Reserve Sustainment Command Detachment 8.

One of the projects that CCDC SC and Harvard University are working on together is the development and testing of ballistic protection nanofibers, which have the potential to be used to create lighter body armor.

Grant Gonzalez, one of Parker’s PhD students, invented the nanofibers.

“We are reimagining Kevlar fibers, attempting to make them stronger and tougher, by decreasing their diameter to change how the polymer inherently organizes and crystalizes,” said Gonzalez. “These fibers will decrease the weight the warfighter carriers without sacrificing protection.”

The Harvard inventor needed CCDC SC’s ballistics and testing expertise. Gonzalez, who has been the primary liaison between Parker’s laboratory and CCDC SC, has now graduated and is the first PhD student to be jointly mentored by people at CCDC SC and Harvard.

“The capabilities of the CCDC SC allow us to quantify the successes of our fibers from the perspective and needs of the warfighter,” said Gonzalez.

In addition to ballistic protection, Parker noted that the Kevlar nanofibers invented by Gonzalez have other potential uses.

“We’re working with Natick’s boot lab to test Kevlar nanofibers on the bottom of combat boots and doing abrasion testing,” said Parker. “When working with the Kevlar and ballistics, we realized that there were some unique abrasive properties, helping Soldiers better navigate lava rock and terra firma. The Kevlar nanofibers also have flame-retardant properties. So, if you are an armored crew member or if you are on an aircraft, in both situations, you may need to worry about an onboard fire. The idea is that we may be able to put Kevlar nanofibers into your flight suit or crewmember suit to give you more flame retardancy.”

Gonzalez explained that the fibers may also have applications for emergency responders, police, and firemen.

“These fibers have potential applications in ballistic protection for police and puncture-resistant materials for emergency responders and firefighters,” said Gonzalez.

Former and current Soldiers are involved throughout research, development and testing process, providing all-important insight into identifying capability gaps to meet the needs of the warfighter.

“Army Reserve Soldiers bring a critical combination of expertise to the table — civilian education and professional experience coupled with military experience and associated professional relationships from both sides,” said Wood. “Having current and former Soldiers involved in S&T brings expertise, experience and the passion to follow the effort to completion. Further, these Soldiers may personally benefit from the S&T developments and new capabilities in an operational environment. Through Soldiers’ knowledge and operational experience, they bring critical insight as to what is needed and if/how the new equipment will be used.”

Parker served several combat tours in Afghanistan and has first-hand knowledge of issues and capability gaps faced by Soldiers on the battlefield. Parker’s lab at Harvard includes many military veterans, including veterans who did tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as tours in Africa and the Philippines.

“So these are folks with first-hand battlefield experience,” said Parker. “This is unprecedented. There are multiple layers of expert input going into the science.”

West Point cadets also participate in Parker’s lab at Harvard. CCDC SC works collaboratively with West Point cadets as well.

“I want cadets to understand the role of science and technology in providing for the force,” said Parker. “It’s important to get users involved in design processes very early on. In addition to Soldier research, the idea is that we are training tech-savvy leaders for the next generation of Army combat leaders, and we are training the next generation of civilian scientists and engineers to support national security.”

Parker pointed out that there is great potential for Soldiers to work in labs after uniformed service. He noted that this experience builds on, and exploits, their value to the nation and supports the model of Soldier for Life.

“I have a bunch of military veterans, including Army, working in my lab,” said Parker. “Taking these junior enlisted and junior NCOs and bringing their subject matter expertise, technical knowledge, and applications orientation to the basic science lab is extremely unusual and points to what I call ‘Soldier innovation.’ Junior enlisted and NCO corps expertise are one of the greatest untapped resources that our defense research complex needs to access.”

Parker said he greatly admires the brain power available at CCDC SC. He is eager to expand his research ties throughout CCDC SC and is eager to establish a working relationship with the Combat Feeding Directorate in particular.

“Soldiers have unique dietary needs,” said Parker. “I think people don’t realize that when you sit down to eat an MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat), that’s a scientific and technology parade.”

Both Wood and Parker are dedicated to serving the Soldier and believe the CRADA will lead to even more collaborative efforts in the future.

“Since the CRADA reaches into the entire School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, we anticipate that this agreement could lead to break through developments in multiple technical areas,” said Wood.

“I want to be able to say that the Soldier in the field is better off because of something we did in the lab,” said Parker. “We want to make a major contribution to the Army’s future.”

By Jane Benson, CCDC SC

AUSA 19 – WL Gore & Assoc Integrated Cabling for Soldier Systems

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

I first saw Gore’s Integrated Cabling for Soldier Systems at DSEI last month in London. I was quite pleased to see that they had brought the technology across the pond to the US. Gore’s cable systems are across the board, lighter, more flexible and less prone to breakage than alternatives, thanks to the ePTFE exteriors. Using them to provide power and databus within an armored vest, was a logical step.

The armor vest itself was manufactured by WL Gore partner brand Costas Siamidis, which is based in Greece. The actual Gore cabling is inside of this vest. They are connector agnostic, which is important considering there are at least four different connectors on the market.

This is what their cable bundles look like and they will configure them how needed. Compared to other systems, they are less than half the weight and much less bulky.

Natick’s New Design Studio Is Tailor-Made For Soldier Clothing and Equipment

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

NATICK, Mass. — The Design, Pattern and Prototype Team at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center has a new and improved Design, Pattern and Prototype Studio.

The CCDC Soldier Center is dedicated to using science and technology to ensure America’s warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. CCDC SC supports all of the Army’s Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the CCDC SC’s chief areas of focus. The center’s science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. CCDC SC is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers’ performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.

The new facility will further advance the work of the Design, Pattern and Prototype Team, which is part of the CCDC SC’s Soldier Protection and Survivability Directorate. The team designs and fabricates prototypes of a wide range of clothing, equipment, and protective gear, including chemical-biological protection, body armor, field and combat clothing, dress uniforms, and cold- and hot-weather clothing.

“The CCDC Soldier Center’s new Design, Pattern and Prototype Studio provides a professional, cutting-edge workspace that fosters collaboration, creativity, and innovation,” said Douglas Tamilio, director of CCDC SC. “The facility’s new capabilities range from precision cutting of ballistic protective materials to seam-sealing of chemical-biological protective items. The upgraded facility will significantly increase our ability to develop and prototype clothing, equipment and protective gear, working to increase the performance and lethality of our Soldiers.”

The studio provides each designer his or her own work space and also features a large, open space to foster communication among designers.

“The new design studio provides a professional studio space, which thoughtfully encompasses clean aesthetics, balanced lighting, cohesiveness of people, and optimized workflow/ergonomics,” said Annette LaFleur, team leader for the Design, Pattern and Prototype Team. “The new design inspires productivity, and maximizes current capabilities and yet is flexible in design to accommodate future capabilities.”

To help team members carry out their all-important work, the new studio includes improved capabilities and equipment. One of the new capabilities is a multi-ply cutting table.

“The versatile table can cut ballistic materials up to one-inch thick or a single ply of dress fabric — and everything in between,” said LaFleur. “This equipment reduces time for cutting and creates precise pattern geometry.”

The team shares the cutter with CCDC Soldier Center’s Infantry Combat Equipment Team.

“The Infantry Combat Equipment Team finds the cutter invaluable in terms of cutting high plies of ballistics for lightweight helmet prototyping, which is done right here onsite in their new helmet lab,” said LaFleur.

LaFleur’s team also jointly acquired a dual-source laser cutter with the Optical and Electromagnetic Materials Team.

“The laser cutter is great in terms of sealing the edges of synthetic materials to prevent fraying,” said LaFleur.

The new studio has other updates as well.

“In terms of sewing equipment, we have a full range of 30-plus, light-to-medium duty industrial sewing machines,” said LaFleur. “We upgraded to a new seam-sealing machine, which is used for taping seams in certain items, like raingear, to make them waterproof. The seam-sealing machine is also used to apply impermeable, specialty tapes for chemical-biological protective items. We also upgraded to a computerized multi-use keyhole buttonhole machine that also creates sewn eyelets.”

The Design, Pattern and Prototype Team is known for finding creative solutions to meet Soldier needs and for fostering partnerships with other CCDC SC teams.

“We have great partnerships with the parachute/load carriage and tent design/prototyping teams when we need heavier-weight sewing capabilities,” said LaFleur.

LaFleur’s team is committed to developing items for all service members and is working to meet the clothing and protection needs of the growing number of females serving in the military.

CCDC SC’s commitment to developing items for female Soldiers was noted by Farrah E. Ridore, regional director for Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office, who attended the new design studio’s open house on September 10.

“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Warren recognizes that our men and women in uniform need the very best equipment and clothing to be able to conduct their mission,” said Ridore. “I was pleased to visit Natick on the Senator’s behalf and receive an update on their important work. I was particularly struck by Natick’s enhanced focus on innovations in clothing and equipment for female service members. This effort is critical and I look forward to visiting Natick in the future to learn more about the progress of this project and others at the center.”

The new studio and equipment will enable team members to do their jobs even better, but it is their talent and dedication to serving the Soldier that further drive the team’s success.

“Besides being fortunate to have this newly renovated design studio and a vast array of equipment and software to do our jobs — most importantly, we have the right talent,” said LaFleur. “The team is made up of ten clothing designers and one industrial design intern. I can’t say enough about the diverse talent, positive attitudes and forward thinking of those on the Design Team. At the end of the day, their work is behind the great products that make Soldiers optimized, protected and lethal.”

Story by Ms. Jane Benson (CCDC SC)

Photos by Ms. Nina Tobin (CCDC SC)

The IKEA Day Pack

Friday, August 9th, 2019

My friend Dan Matsuda has been a gear designer for decades. He recently whipped up this day pack using an Ikea tote.

He previously created a pack from a rice bag. Check out the video.

NSWC Crane Hosts First United Kingdom Light Weapon Design Course for Expeditionary Professionals

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

CRANE, Ind. – Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) hosted Expeditionary professionals for its first Light Weapon Design Course led by Cranfield University, a postgraduate university based in the United Kingdom that specializes in defense technology.

“This is the first time the Light Weapon Design has been brought to Crane,” says Adam Parsley, a Division Manager at NSWC Crane. “The Small Arms Weapon Systems Division was able to really enhance the learning experience for all the students with the access we have to weapons, ammunition, and the firing range.”

Parsley says the Light Weapon Design Course teaches the fundamentals of weapon operation and design.

“It focuses on the development of light weapons, or small arms, and their design and operation today,” says Parsley. “Through this course, our Expeditionary employees will better understand the reasoning behind design parameters – heat dissipation, durability, signature, recoil – and will have better concepts of how to design and test weapons.”

Chris Shaffer, an engineer at NSWC Crane, took part in Cranfield’s Light Weapon Design Course. Shaffer says these highly specialized courses from Cranfield help with workforce development.

“These courses offer Expeditionary professionals the opportunity to gain unique, hands-on experience,” says Shaffer. “They can take the engineering concepts, ideas, and skills they learned in undergrad and apply them to military devices. For these jobs in Expeditionary Warfare, the workforce needs specialized knowledge.”

Students from other commands traveled to NSWC Crane to participate in the course.

“The Light Weapon Design Course was fantastic,” says Erin Thompson, a Weapons Team Engineer at Marine Corps Systems Command. “I learned so much that will be directly applicable to my job and make me more effective for the Marine Corps. Chris Shaffer and the Crane team were great and the access we were afforded to the weapons was incredibly beneficial.”

“I thought the class was really well done,” says Elizabeth Palm, a Test Officer at US Army Cold Regions Test Center. “Adam and Chris did a great job coordinating with Cranfield to be able to offer so much hands-on time with a variety of weapons, especially the foreign ones. And of course any chance to get out on the range is always a good day!”

Cranfield University is in its second year of offering Masters of Science courses at Crane. The Light Weapon Design Course is the seventh Cranfield course since its inception.

“Cranfield offers courses in weaponry, munitions, sensors, and communications that most colleges and universities just don’t have,” says Parsley. “They also have packaged these courses in this condensed, one-week format that is optimal for the working professional who wants to pursue an advanced degree.”

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today’s Warfighter.

By NSWC Crane Corporate Communications

Fissile Group x The Design Aggregate Announce Partnership

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

Alex Warburton is standing on top of a cliff. It’s 60 feet to the bottom and in between him and a safe landing are two giant snow covered pillows covered in at least a meter of snow. But he can’t see them. He can see the nose of his snowboard and the space that he would like to land a ride away and that’s all.

Down and to the side is Dano Pendygrasse. He just weaseled his way through a steep icy gap between a giant old growth cedar tree and the aforementioned cliff to gain a vantage point where he can take a picture. “IT GOES!” He yells. They exchange details in a verbal shorthand that would mean nothing to anyone who was listening.

A moment later Alex yells “DROPPING!” and points his board over the edge. He connects the snowy dots of the pillows and lands in the transition and rides away. Dano’s camera captures it all.

When you build trust in scenarios where injury or death are real possibilities, the rest comes easy.

Fissile Group and The Design Aggregate are proud to announce a strategic partnership. Over the last couple decades they have worked with brands like Adidas, Arc’teryx, Burton, Monster Energy, Rip Curl, and dozens more, and bring a deep endemic knowledge to design, brand development, and strategy. The award winning products, campaigns and content they have developed have had a global impact creating lasting impact for their clients.

“This collaboration increases capabilities of both camps and positions FG x TDA as a leading resource for clients looking for a connection to Outdoor and Action Sports markets in the Pacific Northwest.”

-Alex Warburton. Principal, The Design Aggregate

“It’s been very fulfilling to work with Alex and his team again after all these years. His experience in the space is impressive and The Design Aggregate process has been a natural fit with Fissile Group. We’re very excited about the work we’ve begun and look forward to taking on more interesting challenges.”

-Dano Pendygrasse. Founder, Fissile Group.

For inquiries please reach out to us by email or DM on your favourite social channel.


WITH OVER 30 YEARS of combined professional product design & development experience, The Design Aggregate team brings a smart, open & collaborative process to your organization. Our creativity is born straight out of our own passions, aspirations and lifestyles. We are the ever-evolving outdoors & action sport consumer consciousness, often initiating shifts and trends within the cultures themselves.

A number of our designs have re-written industry standards and thrust our clients to the forefront of their respective product categories.


Fissile Group was formed to build an apparel line for a client, from idea to consumer, including marketing strategy, apparel design, content development, and everything in between.  Since then we have focused heavily on early phase brand development and strategy. We primarily work with small to medium businesses to develop their brand from an idea or a product, to a strong foundation with a vision for growth.

SOFWERX – Next Generation PEO-RW Cockpit Capability Collaboration Event

Sunday, July 7th, 2019

USSOCOM PEO-Rotary Wing (RW) is interested in the next generation Special Operations Aviation (SOA) Cockpit. Join subject matter experts to ideate on potential solutions. This event will help participants understand the operational needs of the RW user community.

Focus areas include:
• Controls
• Voice Activation
• Heads Up Eyes Out Display
• Windscreen
• Display
• Communication/ICS
• Operational Flight Program (Operating System)

The event will ensure exposure to any technology that could increase aviator capability from the cockpit.

SOFWERX will hold an event on 16 July 2019 and the RSVP Deadline: 09 July 11:59 PM EST (sic).

For additional details, visit

Cubic Awarded Contract to Develop Small Form Factor Radio for US Air Force

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Cubic Mission Solutions to deliver and demonstrate low-risk solution for Data Link Enterprise small form factor radio capability 

SAN DIEGO – June 10, 2019 – Cubic Corporation (NYSE: CUB) today announced its Cubic Mission Solutions (CMS) business division was awarded a delivery order from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for the development and demonstration of a Small Form Factor (SFF) Radio prototype for the Data Link Enterprise (DLE). The system is composed of one ground and one air component for improved communications capability, providing ground-to-air and air-to-ground real-time communications.

Cubic’s state-of-the-art solution is a lightweight, airborne and ground radio system delivering SFF capability in the most compact tactical radio prototype. In addition to a number of standard waveforms, Cubic’s system will demonstrate an internally developed, protected waveform known as “Boomslang.”

“We are very pleased to have been competitively selected by the USAF to develop and demonstrate our cutting-edge small form factor radio solution for the DLE,” said Mike Twyman, president, Cubic Mission Solutions. “Our system design is based on proven and mature technologies which we have implemented for a number of successful Department of Defense programs. We look forward to leveraging our expertise to provide the lowest risk and most capable solution for the DLE.”

Cubic’s SFF technical approach focuses on an architecture maximizing functionality and performance while minimizing the system’s size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) for both the ground and airborne systems. Cubic’s offering is modular, scalable and affordable with plug and play, open standard interfaces meeting Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) requirements.

“With decades of experience in developing systems for airborne and ground platforms, we are able to deliver a cost-effective solution, leveraging enhanced off-the-shelf technologies to build a prototype that will be ready for fielding in future follow on efforts,” said James Parys, program director, Cubic Mission Solutions.