April 2, 2012

WSU National Center for Medical Readiness to host national AFRL Engineering Challenge Competition at Calamityville in April

Three service academies and 17 universities will compete to build and demonstrate device to scale 60 ft. wall

DAYTON, Ohio—Military forces have been looking for new ways to scale fortress walls since the Greek army laid siege to the city of Troy during the Trojan War in the twelfth century B.C. And for one week in April, engineering students from the three service academies and universities across the nation will descend on Wright State’s Calamityville to take up the challenge.

Wright State University’s National Center for Medical Readiness (NCMR) will host the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) 2012 Service Academy and University Engineering Challenge April 16-20, at its Tactical Laboratory, Calamityville, in Fairborn.

Engineering students and their faculty advisors from 17 universities nationwide and three service academies will be competing in this year’s challenge to design, fabricate and demonstrate a system to allow battlefield airmen, along with their equipment, to scale buildings or mountain faces under a variety of conditions.

The engineering students will be required to develop a system that will enable airmen to climb rock faces and concrete/adobe walls of 60 feet or higher, preferably without the need to grapple over the top edge of the structure. The winning device must be reusable, accommodate a 300-pound load, permit multiple pitches during the climb and be faster or less strenuous than current climbing methods—all while allowing the operator to do other tasks while climbing, including using a weapon, radio or other equipment

Each team of five or more undergraduates will work with trained climbers who will demonstrate their device by climbing one of the 90-foot concrete towers at Calamityville. A panel of judges will determine the winners.

Among the universities competing are Wright State University, the University of Dayton, Arizona State, Ohio State, Colorado State and Johns Hopkins University. The three service academies, West Point, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy will compete separately.

“Calamityville is the perfect location for this challenge,” said Glenn Hamilton, M.D., senior director of the National Center for Medical Readiness. “A state-of-the-art, collaborative training and research facility, Calamityville is located on the site of a former cement plant, which has multiple 90-foot silos on site along with excellent access and acreage to set-up their equipment.”

The three service academies will compete against each other on Monday, April 16, and the universities will compete Wednesday through Friday, April 18-20. AFRL sponsors the annual challenge to promote and sustain university research and education focused on innovative military systems and related technologies.

“The annual Academy and University Challenge is a cornerstone of AFRL’s Innovation Portfolio, allowing us to tap into the energy and fresh ideas of young engineers to tackle a challenging problem facing our troops,” said Alok Das, Ph.D., senior scientist for design innovation at AFRL. The challenge not only exposes these students to real world engineering, but is also exciting because of the competitive demonstration of their engineering solutions, he explained.

“You can sense the enthusiasm and energy in the teams. They are eager to show their innovation and engineering prowess at the Calamityville event,” said Devon Parker, AEDC/XPR, Arnold Air Force Base Engineering Development Center, who is serving as the challenge program manager. Parker had high praise for the support of the WSU staff in preparing for this final demonstration, which is expected to result in a successful culmination of this year’s Academy/University Challenge.

The universities competing are:
Arizona State University
Auburn University
Brigham Young University
Colorado State University
Johns Hopkins University
Michigan Technological University
Ohio State University
Texas Engineering Experiment Station
University of Akron
University of Dayton
University of Minnesota
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Utah State University
Western Carolina University
Wright State University

Combined team:
Tennessee State University
Prairie View A&M

Service academies:
West Point
The Naval Academy
The Air Force Academy