5 Military Gadgets Designed By Students

The annual Soldier Design Competition features crazy military concepts of everything from exoboots to wearable batteries.

Energy Detectives

Team: Amp My FOB
School: MIT
Members: Maj. Mark Gillman, John Donnal, Lt. j.g. Will Cotta, Dr. Jim Paris, Nelson Brock, Rose Abramson

1
Military bases are inefficient when it comes to electrical usage. Team Amp My FOB (forward operating base) developed a smart meter that analyzes how much electricity a base uses. Dubbed Wattsworth, the system uses noncontact sensors to measure the electromagnetic field around wires and takes a reading 8000 times per second, compared with the once a minute of traditional sensors. The hub connects to local Wi-Fi networks to communicate with the sensors and mobile devices.

Team member John Donnal said that the constant monitoring Wattsworth provides will also indicate when an appliance is failing. For example, if an air conditioner has a Freon leak and has to work harder and harder to cool the air, the extra usage will show up on Wattsworth. This team won a $3000 Director’s Prize.

Battlefield Airbags

Team: The Heavy Lifters
School: U.S. Military Academy
Members: Christina Lee, Allesandra Coote, Josh Cook, Nathan Billisits, Robert Hume, Christopher Abdul, Jason Hu, Blake Hunnewell, James Luehrmann, Shane Jones, Hashem Mughrabi, Drew Stanley
2
On the battlefield, heavy hazards and debris can fall and pin soldiers. Heavy Lifters developed an airbag system to allow Air Force Pararescue specialists to hoist everything from collapsed walls to rolled-over vehicles. Made of rubber-reinforced Kevlar, each bag can inflate to 27 psi and lift 10,000 pounds. During testing, the team used several bags to raise a 46,300-pound D6 bulldozer. When deflated, the reusable airbags fit inside a backpack with two small canisters of compressed air, and the whole thing weighs 26.5 pounds. This team won a $3000 Director’s Prize.

The Strength of Glass

Team: BlastProof
School: MIT
Members: Cody L. Jacobucci, Brian J. Wanek
3
Glass might not be what you’d think of as a way to strengthen armor against explosives. But that’s exactly what MIT’s Team BlastProof came up with. Cody Jacobucci and Brian Wanek took a blast-protective Polyurea composite and interspersed glass spheres within. When a shock wave hits the armor panel, it crushes the glass spheres inside, dissipating the energy from the blast. During testing, the panels dissipated 50 percent of the shock-wave force. And by using glass, Jacobucci and Wanek made the armor panels about 30 percent lighter. When implemented onto existing military-base buildings, the Polyurea/glass panels add only 14 pounds to the current 140-pound armoring. The same technology could find its way into personal armor in the future. This team won the $3000 Gore Innovation Prize for third place.

IV Quick-Heater

Team: ResQ Warmer
School: MIT
Members: Felicia Hsu, Anisha Gururaj, Ishwarya Ananthabhotia, David Bian
4
When a soldier is suffering from hypothermia or goes into shock, medics have just an hour-long window for the most effective treatment. To get warm fluids into hypothermic patients, Team ResQ Warmer developed a rapid-warming system for IVs. Deployable in 2 minutes, the ResQ consists of two bags. The inner bag holds the IV fluid, while the outer bag holds a chamberful of water and a measure of calcium chloride, or common salt. When a medic breaks the snap chamber, the water and salt mix, and the resulting chemical reaction releases heat, warming the IV fluid in the inner bag. A temperature strip shows how hot the IV is getting. When the team tested the ResQ, they could increase the temperature of the IV fluid 7 to 8 degrees C. The bags are portable, compatible with standard IVs, and easily disposable. This team won the $5000 Raytheon Prize for second place.

One-Handed Tourniquet

Team: THOR Tourniquet
School: MIT
Members: Anton Hunt, Nick Demas, Tyler Hamer, Zaid Zayyad
5
Jay Connor was at the Boston Marathon last year when the explosives went off at the finish line, and the carnage he witnessed made him realize the need for better tourniquets. So he pitched his idea in a Shark Tank-style setup to students in MIT’s Medical Device Design class, and Tyler Hamer and his teammates took on the project. Nine months and six prototypes later, they produced the Thor (Traumatic Hemorrhage One-hand Response) tourniquet. The Thor can be cinched with one hand and in as little as 30 seconds—well before a soldier with a leg or arm wound would pass out from blood loss. That’s also nearly half the time it takes to apply the current CAT (combat application tourniquet), which the military has used since 2005. The soldier simply loops Thor over the injured limb, pulls the strap, and twists the windlass until the tourniquet is tight. The current prototype has lightweight aluminum buckles, fits 99 percent of active U.S. military personnel, and costs merely $30. Soldiers would carry two, but medics could pack as many as they can fit. This team won the $7000 Lockheed Martin Prize for first place.





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