A group of US Army personnel from the 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) traveled to Gainesville from Fort Stewart, Georgia, in February to interact with UF Capstone students, perform vehicle camouflage demonstrations, and discuss the collaboration between them, UF, and the Civil-Military Innovation Institute (CMI2).
This collaboration is about bringing soldiers’ ideas for military innovation to fruition by connecting with universities and having students help create solutions to problems faced by soldiers. CMI2, which also had representatives visiting campus, supports the innovations team at 3ID by providing funding and machinery in addition to assisting with connecting them to universities.
“Sometimes soldiers don’t have the time or the resources to solve their own problems,” said Capt. Christopher Flournoy, one of the 3ID visitors. “So that’s where the innovation team comes in to find external resources, such as funding for prototype material and academic resources to help solve that problem.”
The ID3 and CMI2 visit to UF was coordinated by MAE instructional faculty Matthew J. Traum and Umesh Persad. For their Spring 2023 Capstone project, UF MAE senior design students were challenged to design a vehicle camouflage system that is faster and safer for soldiers to deploy and pack up than the current system. 3ID visitors demonstrated the current system of camouflaging a military vehicle to the gathered students in EML4501. Persad said the visitors were great at explaining and interacting with students, and expressed confidence that this partnership would continue.
“I hope it grows beyond just Capstone projects, and we hope to expand our collaboration with the entire US military in different areas,” he said. “We want to see that our innovations, whatever we come up with collaboratively, see the light of day, that they actually end up being products that are made and used, making a difference in the lives of people.”
Persad also noted how beneficial it is for engineering students to gain hands-on design experience through Capstone senior design.
“We are quite happy to see, from the collaboration, the benefit to students at the end of the day,” he said. “They could see the value of their work and be motivated in that process.
“The idea behind this course is to expose students to real-world problems and let them work in teams, as it’s done in the real world, to come up with solutions,” Persad said. “We all wish to have as much of a real-world experience as we could before heading out into the world of work, and I think this is very good for design engineering students in particular, having that real-world experience and putting their skills to actual use.”
The students who were present described the demonstration as “interesting, informative, and awesome.”
“They’re very knowledgeable,” said Roly Isern, one of the attending UF ME Capstone students. “They’ve probably done it a dozen times, and they know the struggles, they know the weaknesses, and they’re able to convey that over to you.”
Story by: Ben Crosbie
Marketing & Communications Student Assistant
UF Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
May 1, 2023