Sailors pitch ideas for Navy improvements

Sailors pitch ideas for Navy improvements

At last week’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition, sailors pitched their ideas for improving their command as part of the Athena DC 1.0 challenge, a forum that gives the Navy an opportunity to get ideas directly from the warfighters that deal with issues first hand.

Sailors had five minutes to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges that included officials from the Office of Naval Research, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and the Strategic Capabilities Office. 

The solutions presented included:

  • Oracle software that can predict sailors’ performances on computerized exams and design individualized training programs. (Lt. James Landreth, Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit in Charleston, S.C.)

  • A program to read light spectrums, translate them into text and send Morse-code-style messages using laser or infrared light via airborne drones or balloons if the electromagnetic spectrum is jammed. (Lt. Takeru Tajiri, Littoral Combat Ship Crew 104)

  • An augmented reality program displaying potential obstacles that can be used for training to prevent at-sea collisions. (Lt. Daniel Walker, Naval Supply Systems Command)

  • A hydrogen-gasoline fuel hybrid that could potentially power engines while reducing consumption of fossil fuels. (Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Joshua Cranford, Annapolis Naval Hospital)

The winning pitch came from Michael Pecota of the Fleet Readiness Center in Patuxent River, Md. He suggested using 3D printed caps to protect sensitive sensors on the sonar transducers used to locate submarines. This suggestion would extend equipment life and reduce clean-up time by preventing objects from collecting in the transducers between uses and during transport.   

Senior naval officials pledged to help transition Pecota’s design from concept to fleet usage.

“Forums like this are extremely valuable because they bring visibility to the challenges and concerns that sailors face daily,” said Lawrence Schuette, director of research at ONR and a judge for the Athena challenge.  “They allow the Navy to harvest ideas directly from warfighters, who are encouraged to approach and solve problems in unique ways.”

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.


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