HONOLULU (KHON2) — The University of Hawai’i at Mānoa announced that it has partnered with the Department of Defense’s National Security Innovation Network to develop innovative solutions via student teams that will decrease harm and death related to their rescue missions and will improve training for their aircraft and personnel operations.

UHM developed the project as semester-long courses to explore and develop innovative approaches in the DoD’s NSIN’s Hacking for Defense® [H4D™] and Capstone program. The student teams were multidisciplinary groups from UHM’s College of Engineering, College of Natural Sciences and Shidler College of Business. The students learned how to apply entrepreneurial skills in working with the DoD “to identify and develop viable products and early-stage prototypes,” said UHM.

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According to UHM, forty-seven students participated in H4D™ while six obtained internships with NSIN, Booz Allen Hamilton and other companies since launching the program.

“Our partnership with NSIN helps to strengthen the university’s relationship with the DoD and increases the number of opportunities to collaborate with them,” said Vassilis L. Syrmos, UH vice president for research and innovation.”

The experience that students acquire through this program in unparalleled in other programs and allows these students to explore and become experts.

“NSIN’s programs provide invaluable expertise and experiences for our students and faculty to gain real-world innovation and entrepreneurship training, while also providing career and business opportunities to the teams,” added Syrmos.

As with all interdisciplinary programs, systems like the DoD have to learn how to work with the complex process of various ideas coalescing into innovation.

“The challenge of having to work in multidisciplinary teams while navigating the DoD’s complex process requires discipline, and it also provides incredible workforce development and training opportunities not just for our UH students and faculty, but the soldiers working on the projects as well,” said Gloria Choo, UH NSIN regional engagement principal.

The student participants in this program learned in-depth solutions and methodologies that they typically would not encounter in their chosen majors.

“Participants have mentioned that the program has really helped with their communications and presentation skills as well as how they approach problem solving,” explained Choo.

  • Students tour a military helicopter at Schofield Barracks on Dec. 8, 2022 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo/University of Hawai'i)
  • Students tour a military helicopter at Schofield Barracks on Dec. 8, 2022 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo/University of Hawai'i)
  • Students tour military facilities at Schofield Barracks on Dec. 8, 2022 in Honolulu, Hawai'i (Photo/University of Hawai'i)
  • Students pose for a photo with military sponsors and mentors on Dec. 8, 2022 in Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Photo/University of Hawai'i)

The Fall 2022 H4D™ projects included:

  • Team Icaraus which presented solutions ranging from LED-light pathways to incorporating drone speakers to avert spectators from coming near helicopter rotor blades when having to land in urban environments without non-designated landing zones [i.e., helipads], in order to prevent accidental injury or death.
  • Team Stability on the Rise developed and presented their Downwash Shield. It is an advanced technology to decrease patient stretcher spinout while on a helicopter Sked® Basic Rescue System to improve patient transportation safety.
  • Team Tracking Sidewinders who presented a prototype of a web application that consolidates and tracks personnel training and certification data to ensure soldiers are consistently certified for deployment and career advancement and to ensure the Army and Air Force are prepared for any potential mass medical casualty response needs.

Fall 2022 information and computer sciences capstone projects included:

  • An Augmented Intelligence Natural Language Processing team that further developed a prototype application to support aircraft maintenance by investigating how natural language processing can be used to improve data accuracy of squadron maintenance records and enhance the user experience.
  • A Phase Maintenance Inspection Software team that presented a proof-of-concept software that can better forecast, manage and assess mission-critical phase maintenance inspections of its fleet of rotary wing aircrafts by leveraging and synchronizing automation and data analytics. This will improve aviation sustainment capabilities, maintenance quality and predictability for soldiers and their families to prepare for training.
  • A Digital Wargame Development team that continued to develop and enhance an app that supports deployment logistics and planning. This includes the delivery and sustainment of supplies, munitions, etc….

Fall 2022 mechanical engineering capstone projects included:

  • An Airfield Debris from Launching Aircraft team who developed a blueprint for a humvee trailer attachment and protective casing for a remote-controlled industrial debris blower to provide a safer and more efficient means of clearing potentially explosive munitions from airfields when flying in and out of enemy territory.
  • A fuel sampling in Aircraft team who is developing a prototype for a hand pump that is directly connected to a UH-60 [Black Hawk helicopter] that is more efficient and safer for crew members to sample fuel. This will prevent potential fuel contamination and exposure to toxic, corrosive fuel and reduce fuel preparation time.

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  • A Patient Warmer for Marines team who developed technology to prevent morbidity and mortality rates of treating trauma patients with hypothermia and overcome logistical challenges of requiring electricity for other treatment options.