The team will support navigation, flood risk management, water resources management, sediment management, and military engineering projects.
The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) has tasked the joint venture of Taylor Engineering and Woolpert with providing research and development services for its Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL). The $49 million, single-award task order contract will support CHL projects that advance navigation, flood risk management, water resources management, sediment management, and military engineering.
ERDC is the primary scientific research and development organization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and oversees seven research laboratories across the U.S. Located in Vicksburg, CHL is responsible for the discovery, development, and delivery of coastal, estuarine, and hydraulic water resources research in both the Civil Works Program and military domains.
Woolpert Vice President Eric Dillinger said that the JV leadership team has extensive experience managing projects for CHL, ERDC, and USACE. This team includes Woolpert Director of Advisory Services Jeff Lillycrop, a former ERDC technical director with 33 years of experience serving CHL, and Taylor Engineering President Jim Marino, a former USACE officer with over 20 years of USACE experience, including three and a half years leading the military research program at the Coastal Engineering Research Center before it was consolidated into CHL. Marino is the managing partner for the JV.
“The Taylor-Woolpert joint venture represents decades of focused and complementary expertise coming together,” Dillinger said. “This contract will be led by a team intimately familiar with and fully capable of meeting the complex research needs of the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory.”
Taylor Engineering Vice President Christopher Bender said this is the first contract executed under Taylor and Woolpert’s new Mentor-Protégé Program agreement, which was approved by the U.S. Small Business Administration last year.
“Taylor and Woolpert are currently working as professional partners on multiple projects across a variety of service lines,” Bender said. “We look forward to this next chapter working alongside Woolpert and providing a truly world-class team of engineers and researchers for ERDC and its missions.”
Global research and infrastructure advisory firms are serving as subconsultants for this contract, which is now underway. Those firms include Applied Research Associates and Moffatt & Nichol, as well as Alden Labs, Desert Research Institute, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Jackson State University.
Since 1983, Taylor Engineering Inc. has provided leading-edge solutions to challenges in the water environment. The company focuses its attention on water-related engineering, planning, management, and environmental challenges with emphasis on coastal regions for public, private, and government clients. A Federal Small Business and a Jacksonville Business Journal’s 2022 and 2023 Best Places to Work, Taylor Engineering has over 50 employees with three offices. Taylor Engineering’s six service groups, Coastal Engineering, Coastal Planning, Dredging and Navigation, Environmental, Water Resources, and Waterfront Engineering, along with our Coastal and Marine Geosciences Laboratory, deliver leading-edge solutions in the water environment. For more information, visit www.taylorengineering.com.
Woolpert is the premier architecture, engineering, geospatial (AEG), and strategic consulting firm, with a vision to become one of the best companies in the world. We innovate within and across markets to effectively serve public, private, and government clients worldwide. Woolpert is a Global Top 100 Geospatial Company, a Top 100 ENR Global Design firm, has earned seven Great Place to Work certifications, and actively nurtures a culture of growth, inclusion, diversity, and respect. Founded in 1911 in Dayton, Ohio, Woolpert has been America’s fastest-growing AEG firm since 2015. Woolpert has over 2,000 employees and more than 60 offices on five continents. For more information, visit woolpert.com.
Rowan University’s Center for Research & Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering Systems (CREATES) has been awarded a $30 million, five-year contract—with the first two years funded at $11.5 million— from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), to expand Arctic region research.
Led by Yusuf Mehta, Ph.D., and Ayman Ali, Ph.D., CREATES researchers are developing innovative construction technologies and materials to withstand fluctuating temperatures and surface conditions in cold regions impacted by climate change. The work spans a wide range of projects, including the design and evaluation of new pavement materials, as well as their production and maintenance.
Among other projects, the additional Army Ground Advanced Technology funding will support:
Rising temperatures, thawing permafrost and eroding coastlines are challenging the military’s transportation infrastructure in the Arctic, affecting roads, runways and bridges. Research engineers from ERDC’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) work closely with universities around the country, guiding studies, providing expertise and helping to develop the next generation of engineers.
“Our collaboration with Army Corps research engineers allows us to explore creative solutions for cold regions, from pavements that can melt ice and detect frost to more resilient asphalt and concrete materials that can withstand cold conditions,” Mehta said. “Even better, we’re developing the next generation of engineers who will continue to advance the field of transportation engineering.”
Accompanied by a team of scientists, Dr. Ivan Beckman, CRREL deputy director, spent several days recently at Rowan University visiting labs and hearing the latest updates on the center’s progress. He said he was impressed by the center’s facilities, laboratories and procedures, as well as the professionalism of Rowan faculty and students.
“The lifeblood of CRREL is academia,” Beckman said. “Students, scientific research and very basic scientific understanding is very important to our mission and cold regions research. We always seek out great ideas and great partnerships with universities.”
In addition to site visits, Danielle Kennedy, CRREL program director and a research civil engineer, meets weekly with various teams from CREATES.
“We have been working with Rowan since 2016 and the CREATES program has grown a lot since then,” Kennedy noted. “It’s helped us grow our technology areas at the ERDC a lot, as well. We’re going to conferences with the students and presenting work together. We’re publishing papers together. It’s really been a beneficial relationship for both ERDC and Rowan. I think there’s a lot of potential for future capabilities with all these projects that we’re developing now.”
The collaboration includes workforce development. Earlier this year, CRREL hired Seth Wagner, a Rowan University doctoral student at CREATES. Wagner visited campus recently in his professional capacity.
“I went through graduate school specifically so I could continue doing research,” said Wagner, a civil engineer who received his bachelor’s degree in 2016 and his master’s degree in 2019, both from Rowan. “And now I’m being paid full time to do research. It’s pretty much exactly what I was looking for.”
Besides driving innovation and developing new technologies, the center is fully invested in workforce development, noted Rowan University Provost Tony Lowman.
“Ever since CREATES launched in 2016, Dr. Mehta and his team have worked with industry and government partners to meet their needs for workforce training and research goals,” Lowman said. “What has been particularly successful is how well they prepare students to continue that work after graduation. This close working relationship with our partners is exactly what we hoped to accomplish and we’re excited to see where our graduates go next.”
In addition to projects and internships for undergraduates, more than 40 master’s and doctoral students in the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering are pursuing CREATES-related research, contributing to the rapid growth of the college’s graduate programs, said Dean Giuseppe Palmese.
“Dr. Mehta and his colleagues are demonstrating the power of our hands-on, minds-on engineering education,” Palmese said. “This award will significantly expand research opportunities for many more students. Their work will make an impact.”
Volcon Inc. (NASDAQ: VLCN) (“Volcon” or the “Company”), the first all-electric, off-road powersports company, announced today the signing of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the United States Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC). Volcon believes this collaboration marks a significant step forward in the development of EV technology for both civilian and military applications.
Under the terms of this CRADA, Volcon and ERDC will collaborate on research and development efforts aimed at enhancing the capabilities of electric vehicles, with a focus on creating dual-use products that benefit both warfighters and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in their support of emergency services disaster response.
Key objectives of this collaboration include:
This agreement represents a significant step toward addressing known challenges in the EV sector, such as remote tactical recharging, vehicle-to-grid, and microgrid charging, and looks to maximize power efficiency while reducing reliance on traditional fuel-based energy generation.
By working together with ERDC, Volcon aims to create scalable EV solutions that benefit federal, state, and local governments, as well as the Department of Defense (DoD). This collaboration embodies the spirit of the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 and Army Regulation 70-57, which encourage the private sector to leverage federally funded technology developments for the betterment of the United States.
“We are very excited to be working with the Army Corps. We believe that their decades of experience in engineering solutions for the battlefield will bear real fruit for Volcon in the commercial markets. This agreement is crafted in a way that mutually benefits the parties by creating real-world solutions and product features that can be monetized in the future,” said Jordan Davis, Volcon CEO. “On the one hand, we get to play a real role in benefiting the warfighter and humanitarian efforts where our electric vehicles can play a role, all while harvesting technology that may be deployed to commercial segments as well.”
Volcon ePowersports is excited about the potential this collaboration holds for the future of the Company, electric vehicle technology in general, and its broader applications. Together with ERDC, the Company looks forward to advancing the state of the art in EV technology and contributing to a more sustainable and efficient future.
About Volcon, Inc
Based in the Austin, Texas area, Volcon was founded as the first all-electric power sports company producing high-quality and sustainable electric vehicles for the outdoor community. Volcon electric vehicles are the future of off-roading, not only because of their environmental benefits but also because of their near-silent operation, which allows for a more immersive outdoor experience.
Volcon's vehicle roadmap includes both motorcycles and UTVs. Its first product, the innovative Grunt, began shipping to customers in late 2021 and combines a fat-tired physique with high-torque electric power and a near-silent drive train. The Volcon Grunt EVO, an evolution of the original Grunt with a belt drive, an improved suspension and seat, began shipping to customers in September 2023. Volcon will also offer the Runt LT, a fun-sized version of the groundbreaking Grunt, better suited for small-statured riders, more compact properties and trails, or as a pit bike at race events, while still delivering robust off-road capabilities. The Brat is Volcon’s first foray into the wildly popular eBike market for both on road and off-road riding and is currently being delivered to dealers across North America. Volcon is also currently delivering the Volcon Youth Line of dirt bikes for younger riders between the ages of 4 to 11. Volcon debuted the Stag in July 2023 and entered the rapidly expanding UTV market and previously announced that it will begin shipping the Stag to customers in October 2023. The Stag empowers the driver to explore the outdoors in a new and unique way that gas-powered UTVs cannot. The Stag offers the same thrilling performance of a standard UTV without the noise (or pollution), allowing the driver to explore the outdoors with all their senses.
About United States Army Engineer Research and Development Center
The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) is one of the most diverse engineering and scientific research organizations in the world and serves as the research and development arm of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. With seven laboratories in four states and a workforce of more than 2,330 employees, ERDC conducts research and development in support of the warfighter, military installations and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works mission, as well as for other federal agencies, state and municipal authorities and with U.S. industries through innovative work agreements.
As residents of Louisiana prepare for possible disruptions in their drinking water caused by saltwater intrusion, researchers from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) are assisting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) New Orleans District with assessment and mitigation efforts.
With much of the lower Mississippi River Valley experiencing extreme drought conditions, the lack of rainfall has led to lower levels of fresh water in the Mississippi River, allowing for a denser layer of salt water from the Gulf of Mexico to make its way upstream, threatening the drinking water supplies in several Louisiana communities, including the city of New Orleans.
River conditions are low and have been for some time. The bed of the Mississippi River is much lower than the sea level in the Gulf of Mexico, and if there's not enough fresh water to apply pressure to keep the salt water in the Gulf of Mexico, then it slowly migrates upstream in the shape of a wedge.
“When fluids of different densities encounter each other — which in this case, salt water is denser than fresh water — they tend to stratify,” said Gary Brown, a research hydraulic engineer with the ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory. “So, the fresh water flows over the salt water, and the salt water flows under the fresh water.”
Salt water has been steadily migrating upstream against the current, and as long as those low river conditions persist, without intervention, that upstream migration will persist.
“Salt is not something that you can conventionally deal with in drinking water filtration,” said Brown. “You can't filter it out of the water, and it corrodes the pipes. It's a significant issue, not only for drinking, but also for agriculture and livestock.”
Though it’s a relatively new term to many, experts at ERDC have been studying these saltwater wedges and intrusion for decades.
“We owe a lot of our knowledge of the salt wedge and salt dynamics to the work that has been done here at ERDC over the years by many different people,” said Brown. “We have much understanding of the basic physics of saltwater wedges, and a lot of that pioneering research was done right here. There was a lot of the early physical and numerical modeling of salt wedges that was developed here, as well.”
To help assess the current conditions, the team is using a basic model they developed with a freshwater layer on a saltwater layer that interact.
“We have a fairly simplified model of the Mississippi River, but it's pretty effective,” said Brown. “It's been successful at predicting where the salt's going to be, and it runs quickly allowing for a lot of ‘what if’ analysis.”
“This is an emergency operation, and we need really quick turnaround of our assessments,” he continued. “We want to be able to do a lot of assessments, not only of what may happen in the future, but also what effects some of our interventions may have. With this tool, we can run very rapid, quick assessments.”
Though ERDC is known for its expertise in research and development, the organization often assists in actionable, emergency operations support — events that are happening right away and impacting a lot of people’s lives immediately.
“Gary and his team have been unwavering in their support to the New Orleans District’s Lower Mississippi River Engineering Branch during this event,” said David Ramirez, chief of the Lower Mississippi River and Tributaries Branch at the New Orleans District. “Their technical assistance by refining an existing hydrodynamic model of the Lower Mississippi River enabled us to respond quickly to this crisis and provide technical information — such as salinity intrusion progress and influence of the natural crevasses along the east bank of the Lower Mississippi River — to USACE leadership and the local governments.”
“The role we play is to try to provide the best information in real-time to support the decision makers,” said Brown. “It's our job to provide the best objective analysis we can — even if that objective analysis is bad news — so that the decision makers can have the opportunity to make the most informed, rational decisions.”
That work is still being used to provide critical data to the Water Management Section and the District Commander, who make real-time operational decisions.
“One of the main products from ERDC is the forecasted salinity locations,” said Ramirez. “The official timeline of when municipal freshwater intakes may be impacted is developed directly from these results. The data is also being used by many local and state government leaders to plan and design saltwater intrusion mitigation strategies.”
“We are working very hard with the district to try to mitigate this issue as much as possible,” said Brown. “We recognize that this is a serious situation for a lot of people in the New Orleans area and the downstream communities. It's a privilege to be able to do something like this and possibly impact people's lives.”
“Gary and his team continue to offer transformative novel, but technically sound, applied solutions to the district at the operational timescale immediately useable for decision making,” said Ramirez. “Cutting-edge technology for decision making today is a rare commodity at the best research intuitions, and we had that luxury through the current emergency saltwater intrusion operations thanks to Gary and the team at ERDC.”
Innovation, particularly in the realm of engineering, design, and construction programs, is more than just a buzzword—it's the key to the future in regions as diverse and dynamic as the U.S. Central Command’s area of operations across the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Levant.
For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Division, innovation is the essential energy that drives success. From the initial development phase of a project, through the design and construction, and well into the operational phase, innovation drives the relentless pursuit of excellence, supporting sustainable strategies and fostering the development of long-lasting, reliable solutions.
Why is this important? Because the CENTCOM region is one of the most dynamic construction environments in the world, spanning more than 4 million square miles. This vast area is populated by more than 560 million people from 25 ethnic groups, speaking 20 languages with hundreds of dialects, and confessing multiple religions that transect national borders.
Factor in the extreme weather conditions that range from scorching desert heat to unpredictable flash floods, and it's evident that constructions here face unique challenges. Add to this the evolving security threats, and it becomes clear why there is an urgent need to stay agile and forward-thinking. Innovation isn't just an option; it's essential for success.
At USACE, 'Building Strong' means continuously embracing innovation. It ensures that infrastructures are not just built but are durable even in the harshest conditions. It's about fortifying military facilities for the utmost security and streamlining project timelines for cost-efficiency. The Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Divisions’ commitment to innovative solutions is instrumental in achieving strategic objectives for both the U.S. and its allied nations in these regions.
Edward “Ted” Upson, the Transatlantic Division’s Engineering and Construction chief, outlined the division's approach in meeting the unique challenges of the CENTCOM AOR.
"The Transatlantic Division has risen to the diverse geographical challenges of the CENTCOM AOR," stated Upson. "Given the dynamic landscapes of our AOR, innovation becomes even more crucial as we strive to maintain a strategic competitive edge and support CENTCOM’s mission to promote stability and protect U.S. national security interests.
By leveraging new technologies and innovative ideas, we stay ahead in the face of both environmental and security challenges."
One of the most compelling examples of this innovative drive is the Transatlantic Division’s partnership with the USACE Engineer Research and Development Center. This collaboration extends beyond immediate solutions, enabling strategic reach back to the home front for advanced research and development capabilities.
"The Army Corps of Engineers possesses significant research capabilities," said Upson. "They not only help us develop innovative solutions swiftly, but they also provide us with a deep well of knowledge and expertise, which is crucial in addressing the unique challenges of the CENTCOM AOR."
This partnership has resulted in key initiatives such as the development of a groundbreaking 3D modeling system.
"We use this system to map and model remote areas of the CENTCOM AOR," Upson said. "This technology allows us to develop projects or present the terrain to potential contractors who can't conduct site visits due to remoteness or security situations."
Another significant project Upson highlighted is in collaboration with ERDC, "The Distributed Low-Energy Wastewater Treatment System is a scalable, somewhat mobile solution that effectively bridges the gap between basic wastewater systems and full-scale wastewater treatment plants. It's tailored for bases transitioning from expeditionary to permanent status."
“Projects like the Falcon-3 Facilities and Infrastructure, as well as the Falcon-5/F-15QA beddown support facilities under construction in Qatar, showcase our commitment,” Upson said. These facilities, which support the Qatar Emiri Air Force, incorporate advanced construction techniques, state-of-the-art infrastructure design, and modular construction methods.
It's all about enhancing flexibility and expediting construction processes," Upson continued. "These projects also stand as a testament to our division’s legacy of strong partnerships, especially with component commands such as U.S. Air Forces Central and the Air Force Security Assistance & Cooperation Directorate."
Building on that foundation of collaboration, the division's impact extends even further.
"Our division is unique compared to the rest of the Army Corps of Engineers," stated Col. William C. Hannan, Jr., Transatlantic Division commander. "We provide engineering, design, and construction not just for our nation and military partners, but also for allied nation mission partners through Foreign Military Sales, Security Cooperation initiatives, and related facilities and infrastructure design and construction, increasing capacity and enhancing security throughout the entire region."
Emphasizing the division's critical role, Hannan explained how capacity-building enhances regional security. "With military construction, we are increasing readiness and modernization through projects supporting the warfighter, enabling steady-state military operations, and sustaining our nation’s ability to fight and win wars, while also addressing the operational, training and maintenance needs of our allied nation partner’s military efforts, increasing interoperability and enabling sustainable security and continued stability within the region."
As the Transatlantic Division looks to the future, it is steadfast in its commitment to reinforcing its legacy of strong partnerships, embracing innovation, and building strong for decades to come.
"Our mission partners are pushing innovation as much as we are, and we’re working together to expand our capabilities and explore new technologies," Upson concluded. "Our legacy of enduring commitment to the region ensures that we continue to deliver innovative, resilient, and sustainable engineering solutions for our partners and allies."
Sliding on ice at speeds exceeding 90 mph is terrifying for most people, but the USA Luge team is seeking assistance from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) along with academic and industry leaders to go even faster.
In the sport’s rule book, luge is afforded a great deal of engineering leeway to customize their sleds and runners. They have their own team of technicians to manufacture the sleds, and athletes routinely engage in the design/build process making luge not only a competition of technique but also one of technology.
It’s all about moving fast on ice, and as such, the team reached out to Dr. Emily Asenath-Smith, lead of the Ice Adhesion Facility at ERDC’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL).
“We first started discussions about high-speed ice friction research about six years ago,” said Asenath-Smith. “Ice adhesion and ice friction are both interface phenomena. They are essentially ice interacting with materials, and they are very related research areas.”
“CRREL has worked in this space for a number of years,” she added. “The Army cares a lot about ice friction — whether they are pulling sleds in cold regions or driving vehicles across frozen ground.”
Unfortunately, when USA Luge first contacted Asenath-Smith there wasn’t enough time to develop a productive collaboration.
“They were getting ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics, but because of timelines to make modifications, there just wasn’t adequate time to do the number of studies that we needed to do,” she said.
However, this time when the team reached out in fall 2022, the timelines finally lined up.
“They got back in touch with me, and said, ‘hey we’re ready and pulling together a research team — we have time,’ so we started talking about what our involvement in the luge research team might look like,” said Asenath-Smith. “What research studies could we do at CRREL? How could we support them?”
To explore and ultimately define the partnership, Asenath-Smith and Dr. Austin Lines, a mechanical research engineer and ice friction researcher at CRREL, accepted the invitation to a workshop held in Park City, Utah, in March 2023. This effort solidified the interdisciplinary research and development (R&D) team and established a roadmap to develop approaches that decrease ice friction and increase speed for the luge team.
“USA Luge took a very organized approach to building out an R&D team for their sport,” said Asenath-Smith. “They had some of their industry research experts, me and Austin — we all went to Park City and engaged in extensive discussions, tours and learning for two days. We met athletes, toured the facilities and engaged in deep cross-disciplinary discussions about all the aspects that affect friction and the interaction of ice with materials.”
Consequently, the luge R&D team is now working on an extensive test plan that integrates technologies that are being developed in other CRREL programs, mainly those in the Materials and Manufacturing Program.
“Essentially this effort fits under a portfolio in advanced materials that we have going with the South Dakota Mines,” said Asenath-Smith. “We were able to connect the luge team with them to help engineer new alloys for their runners. Since we already have a relationship with the university, it’s beneficial to us all. We will get to test some of the materials the luge team may be interested in — albeit indirectly.”
Understanding high and variable speed ice friction is of strategic importance not only to the USA Luge team but to U.S. Army operations in the Arctic. While most mobility and traction applications require good adhesion between ice and tire materials, skis and sleds are an important mobilization method where decreased friction can reduce soldier fatigue and reduce fuel consumption. The collaborative efforts between USA Luge and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can have a profound effect in the future.
“They have so much liberty to engineer and innovate with their sleds that they are the perfect team to undertake an R&D venture,” said Asenath-Smith. “Ultimately, our success will be determined by the luge team’s success at future Olympic games. There just might be a gold medal on the horizon.”
For more than a decade the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville (Huntsville Center) has maintained acquisition and contract management of the Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP).
However, changes to the program are underway to turn over the program to the U.S. Army Engineer Research Development Center (ERDC) contracting activity, Vicksburg, Miss., as early as September.
Patrick Parten, Huntsville Center HPCMP program manager, said although the acquisition portion of the program is moving to ERDC, there is no change to the mission of the HPCMP.
“Since the announcement that the portfolio of projects would transition to ERDC, we’ve worked closely with the HPCMP and the ERDC Contracting Office to ensure a smooth transition of all work with little or no impact to customers or the mission,” Parten said.
“The program continues to accelerate technology development and transition into superior defense capabilities through the strategic application of HPC, networking and computational expertise.”
In 2012, Huntsville Center and ERDC created a partnership to procure the follow-on integrated technical services needed by the HPCMP. To meet the demanding, ever–changing, technical requirements of the HPCMP, Huntsville Center’s Facility Technology Integration Division developed a highly skilled, multi-disciplined Project Delivery Team (PDT) solely dedicated to the execution of contracts in support of the HPCMP.
Over the decade under Huntsville Center, PDT managed a portfolio of projects valued at more than $2 billion and obligated over $1.4 billion over the life of the program. The PDT includes subject matter experts in the areas of program and project management, acquisition, engineering, contracting, resource management, and legal counsel. Additionally, the PDT has members with vast amounts of experience in information technology, networking, cybersecurity, software, hardware, training (in-person and virtual) and communications infrastructure.
Parten said Angela Wilson, Huntsville Center HPCMP contracting section chief, has been instrumental in the program’s success while handling a portfolio of contracts including Technology Insertion Basic Ordering Agreements, High Performance Computing Integrated Technical Services – Unrestricted, HPC Integrated Technical Services – Restricted, HPCMP Program Administrative Support Services, Navy Business Services and ERDC Business Services.
The HPCMP was initiated in 1992 in response to congressional direction to modernize the Department of Defense laboratories' High-Performance Computing (HPC) capabilities. The HPCMP was assembled out of a collection of small high performance computing departments, each with a rich history of supercomputing experience that had independently evolved within the Army, Air Force, and Navy laboratories and test centers. The HPC’s tools solve complicated and time-consuming problems with researchers expanding their ability to solve modern military and security problems using HPC hardware and software.
The HPCMP operates five DoD Supercomputing Resource Centers (DSRCs) with associated Local Area Networks (LANs) / Wide Area Networks (WANs) and develops HPC software applications and support environments.
The five DSRCs are: Army Research Laboratory, Adelphi, Maryland; Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Navy Oceanographic, Stennis Center, Mississippi; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Maui High Performance Computing Center, Maui, Hawaii.
Natural and nature-based features (NNBFs) are becoming more prevalent in coastal resiliency and protection design as climate change threatens social, economic and environmental systems along the U.S. coast. However, planners need enhanced processes to predict and quantify their benefits prior to implementation.
To better incorporate these designs into numerical models, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has developed an Engineering With Nature® toolkit for the Coastal Storm (CSTORM) Modeling System, enabling planners to test the hydrodynamic, ecologic and adaptive effects of NNBFs on coastal or estuarine environments.
“The EWN toolkit for CSTORM modeling is a graphic user interface, or GUI, that allows a numerical modeler to represent NNBFs digitally in existing numerical models and standardizes and streamlines the augmentation of those features into the modeling framework,” said Dr. Amanda Tritinger, a research hydraulics engineer with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center and assistant program manager for the USACE EWN initiative.
The initiative uses the intentional alignment of natural and engineering processes to efficiently and sustainably deliver economic, environmental and social benefits through collaboration. As projects are planned, USACE districts require a method for predicting the impact that EWN features — such as NNBFs — may have on the coastal resiliency of communities, quantifying changes to predicted values of storm surge, inundation and wave attenuation for various storm events if these features were implemented.
Traditionally, the process for bringing these features into numerical models has been cumbersome and expensive. The modeling requires manual integration into the bathymetry/mesh, entailing a high level of skill and a significant time commitment. Each time the feature is altered, the mesh must be rebuilt, causing significant time delays.
“This new tool lets you get a preview of what your meshed-in feature will look like,” said Tritinger. “It also lets you drag and drop multiple designs in one at a time and choose alternative ideas to see what could work and what doesn’t. I think it gives engineers the thumbs up to try something different. It’s more than just a tool -- it’s the chance to push the line of innovation on engineering design.”
The tool doesn’t only open the door to innovation, but also to efficiency.
Standardization is an important key to the framework’s success. The CSTORM design team put a lot of effort into the literature review, working to consistently set the parameters of the numerical model.
“Before, you had to do this extensive literature review to figure out how to represent your features and the parameterization settings of your numerical modeling,” said Tritinger. “We’ve brought all the literature together and put it in one place in this GUI. It allows the user to see the metadata, where the numbers come from, and use their own expertise to adjust as needed.”
Interested districts can download the GUI by visiting the Aquaveo website or learn more information about the toolkit at the EWN website.
“There is also material on the EWN website supporting the toolkit,” Tritinger said. “I think that’s really important for actual application. It’s one thing to have the tool, it’s another to know how to use it. Hopefully this tool, and the documentation behind it, can empower the districts to quantify and understand effects of more resilient designs.”
As part of the EWN initiative, researchers hope to see more widespread usage of the EWN toolkit across the enterprise as the tool can be used to streamline mesh development in general for numerical modeling.
“I would highly recommend – even if you don’t have interest in NNBFs – to take a look, download it, and apply it to mesh development even outside the Advanced Circulation Model,” said Tritinger. “Because of the new workflow, you can develop a mesh and apply it to your own models. It does more than augment an NNBF into a numerical modeling framework. It can expand innovation on every project.”
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has announced the signing of an Educational Partnership Agreement and a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the United States Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), the premier research and development center for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The EPA between UIUC and the U.S. Army ERDC will encourage and enhance study in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, such as materials engineering, computer and data science, digital twinning, material science, physics, robotics, supply chain logistics, and sustainability and resilience.
Meanwhile, the CRADA will enable closer collaboration with ERDC and UIUC, especially with the Grainger College of Engineering, in research efforts of interest to the military.
These agreements cement a long-standing relationship between UIUC and ERDC. The UIUC campus has played host to the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, one of ERDC’s seven laboratories, since 1969.
“Under this partnership, CERL reaches into the university for support from UIUC students and interns who work with CERL engineers and scientists to conduct cutting-edge R&D while working side-by-side with some of the best researchers in the world,” said Dr. David Pittman, director of the ERDC and chief scientist for the Army Corps of Engineers. “Quite simply, successful outcomes to the CERL and ERDC mission would not be possible without the support of these students, interns and faculty."
Highlights of that strategic partnership include adapting 3D printing methodology for additive construction; developing an improved system for washing military vehicles; creating the Digital Opacity Method, which used off-the-shelf still cameras and modeling software to measure atmospheric plume opacity efficiently and accurately; developing a facility for earthquake engineering and shock testing; and evaluating micro-hydro units for army resilience.
“UIUC has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the ERDC that began more than 50 years ago with the founding of CERL on our campus. Our civil and environmental engineers, among others, have partnered with CERL scientists to solve some of our military’s most immediate and complex challenges,” said Rashid Bashir, dean of UIUC’s Grainger College of Engineering. “This agreement will further reduce the barriers of collaboration between our two organizations to enhance educational efforts that are essential to our nation’s well-being.”
With more than 12,000 buoys already playing a critical role in our nation’s inland navigation system, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is researching a way to use patented technology to make those buoys even more valuable.
Relying on these water markers for marine navigation, hundreds of millions of goods are transported annually along our inland waterways. According to an annual report published by USACE, more than 280 million tons were transported in 2020, mostly grain and petroleum products.
Leveraging digital buoy technology developed and patented by Tung “Alex” Ly, a computer scientist with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Geospatial Research Laboratory (GRL), USACE is now exploring the idea of turning buoys that are positioned and designed to mark shipping channels into critical components of an extensive inland waterways network.
Dr. Austin Davis, a technical director with GRL, said Ly’s research provided an example of an effective mesh network that could improve and expand the ability to share important navigation information along a waterway – a technology gap not covered by existing networks or cellular systems.
“Right now, the Lock Operation Management Application (LOMA) system has a network around locks and dam sites to pass information to mariners as they approach the structure, but once they get further down the waterway – away from that site – there is no network access,” Davis said. “The thought is this network could push important navigation information to the mariners along the entire waterway, not just around the locks and dam locations.
“Cell phone towers are just focused on cities and interstates, not so much on the waterways. There are gaps in the ability to get information. This would provide a way to get maritime information – which is important to navigation safety – to the people who need it.”
Developed in conjunction with the Inland Electronic Navigational Charts Program (IENC) and USACE Louisville District, the technology was first targeted at providing the U.S. Coast Guard with real-time locations of its buoys. The idea has now grown beyond that.
“I think the real value to USACE is there would be a network that could disseminate navigation information by augmenting the Coast Guard buoy itself,” Davis said. “At the same time, this would provide trackability to where buoys are and how they move in the waterway. They don’t sit still.”
According to Ly, USACE is responsible for planning and constructing improvements to inland water navigation and dredging and maintaining thousands of miles of inland waterways.
“Water navigation safety markers (buoys) are designated national critical data,” Ly said. “This system of maritime aids to navigation provides the lane markers, street signs, stop lights for the nautical rules of the water, much like the driving rules of the road.”
Initial water-based prototypes and small experimentations were done on the Occoquan River in Virginia. The final prototypes and larger experiments were created and tested on a 10-mile stretch of the Ohio River around the Louisville District.
While the COVID pandemic slowed the expansion of this initiative, Davis said interest and effort in the next steps for the program have increased.
“The ultimate goal is trying to be a stepping stone to start converting navigation on the rivers to a virtual buoys system, but that is several, several decades away … a far future,” Davis said. “The next step would be a large field trial. We have to prove the reliability of the technology. This is about how you make the aids to navigation a little bit smarter and give them more capabilities.”
Davis said a large field trial would try to answer questions about how to augment a Coast Guard buoy best, whether the system can be stretched over one river or multiple rivers, as well as questions about power, reliability, durability and costs.
“In the laboratory effort, we have provided a proof of concept, but there are a lot of things not considered in that effort,” Davis said. But if a larger field test proves successful, “if it makes sense, hopefully, we could scale it into a national digital buoy system.”