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2012 Student Projects


Military service members returning from deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq have suffered injuries including traumatic brain injuries, amputations, burns, spinal cord injuries, visual impairment, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among others. (Randall B. Williamson, 2011) These “wounded warriors” pose obvious medical challenges as well as a host of other interesting and often difficult questions and challenges for the military, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the doctors, family and friends who care for them. Participants in this session will learn about the wounded warrior experience and have the opportunity to investigate real-world STEM questions and challenges that exist in planning for casualties, preventing future injuries, and helping the “wounded warriors” and their families heal, recover, and move forward. After a brief introduction to “wounded warriors” and what it means to be one, participants will identify the questions they have and will then have the opportunity to explore how operations research, science, engineering, technology, math and medicine answers these questions. In a mix of hands-on, research, and computational exercises and activities, participants will explore and propose solutions to one or more of the following questions: How can we better estimate the anticipated numbers of injured and the resources they require? Are there better tools and methods we use to train and equip today’s warriors for dangerous tasks? What issues do wounded warriors and their families face during the healing and recovery process and are there scientific or technical solutions that could help them through the process?

Agency: Institute for Defense Analyses

Mentors: Dr. Deena Disraelly

Environmental Water Quality

The Chesapeake Bay watershed includes the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia . Runoff from land, storm water, and wastewater treatment effluent contribute to the water in the streams and rivers which flow into the bay. Different chemicals impact the health of the bay and are monitored by the EPA and other organizations. Too much of a chemical can have a negative effect on the bay, causing the depletion of oxygen and the death of the fish and other organisms in the bay. The students will take samples at two parts of the watershed, a river near a farm, and a wastewater treatment plant, in addition to taking samples from the bay itself. They will measure metals, nitrate, ammonia, and phosphate concentrations in the samples. Students will use the results of this data to identify the major contributors to the chemicals in the bay and to consider how to reduce the pollutants and their impact on the environmental water quality.

Agency: DTRA

Mentor: Bob Moyer, Ph.D., Charles Hong and Morgan Minyard

Forensic Science

The two-week forensic course is designed to introduce students into the forensic sciences, both in theory and in practice. Students will be given lectures relevant to the forensic disciplines: DNA, Chemistry, Latent Prints and Fire Arms. Lectures will include the DNA profiling process, chemistry of explosives, latent print theory, and fire arms comparisons. Students will also be taught about forensic careers in the private, government, and military sectors. Mock cases will be simulated and the students will process, using techniques such as DNA collection, blood spattering determination, and finger print dusting to classify and resolve evidence. The cases will utilize current technologies and the students will present their finding to their classmates and mentors.

Agency: US Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory

Mentors: Dr. Lawrence Presley

Packaging Design and Testing

Military Packaging plays a major role for our war fighters and in the military distribution system. The students will be exposed to various types of hands-on activities including learning about various types of military preservations, developing innovative packaging designs for various items, and implementing packaging data in packaging instructions. The students will also be exposed to various packaging tests and equipment to determine whether or not their design adequately preserves and protects the product. For the research project, the students will be challenged with several scenarios where they must design and develop packaging. The Environmental & Field Test Branch (EFTB), in conjunction with the ECBC Packaging Branch, will provide students with the opportunity to gain hands-on test experience by testing the packaging designs they develop with the Packaging Branch. A realistic packaging test will be performed following ASTM D 4169 Distribution Cycle 18 criteria for military packaging, allowing the students to subject their packaging designs to sequential testing including drop testing, compression, environmental hazards (temperature changes/rain), and vibration. EFTB personnel will work with the students to help them understand the methodology behind testing as well as aid them in test setup and guidance. The experience will allow students to see the relation between testing and package design as well as the interaction between the Packaging Branch and EFTB that occurs on a regular basis.

Agency:  ECBC Engr Dir

Mentors:  David Vincitore and his team, and Greg Carter and his team

Antibiotic Resistant Microbes

With the increase of antibiotic resistant microbes, the production of self-decontaminating “active” surfaces has become an area of research that has seen a surge of interest in recent years. Such surfaces, when incorporated into commercial products such as children’s toys, medical devices, clothing and hospital surfaces could reduce the number of infections caused by pathogenic microorganisms. This project will involve the formulation and evaluation of these materials. This research will involve the application of standard organic chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology techniques.

Agency: Naval Research Laboratory

Mentor: Preston Fulmer, Ph.D and Roman Aranda

2012 Teacher Projects

In Vitro Toxicology

The teachers will complete one of the following projects:
1. In Vitro Toxicology Screening Assays Using Stem Cells - This DTRA funded program evaluates the toxicity of chronic low level or multiple compound exposures. We will educate the participants on our efforts to evaluate the effects of toxicants on neuronal cells derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hIPSCs) by demonstrating the methods we use to measure viability and toxicity endpoints following exposure to known organophosphate neurotoxicants. or
2. High-throughput Genomic Sequencing - This DTRA funded program utilizes state-of-the-art sequencers to rapidly produce complete, high quality genome sequences of bacterial pathogens for detection and biosurveillance efforts. Participants would learn DNA extraction, PCR, library preparation, sequencing and bioinformatics techniques.

Agency: ECBC, R&T Dir

Mentor: Mary Wade

Teacher: Zachary Lovelace

Packaging Design

Description of the Packaging Design and Testing Project: The teacher will learn how Military Packaging plays a major role for our warfighters and in the military distribution system. The teacher will be introduced to various types of hands on activities including learning about various types of military preservations, developing innovative packaging designs for various items , and implementing packaging data in packaging instructions. In addition, the teacher will also be introduced to various packaging tests and equipment to determine whether or not their design adequately preserves and protects the product. For the research project, the teacher will assist in a real-world packaging challenge and will assist in the design of a military package.

Agency: ECBC, Engr Dir

Mentor: David Vincitore

Assistant: Bill Johnston

Teacher: Nicole Sudler

Air Quality

The teachers will learn about collection and analysis of air monitoring samples for health, safety, and industrial hygiene for chemical agents. It's sustainment support provided by the EML to ECBC and MRICD. Their presentation will be on the processes and what they learned in the short two weeks. Specific skills to be learned: Collection of air monitoring samples, hands-on experience operating GCMS, potentially LCMS, quality control and reporting in a production (non-research) environmental laboratory.

Agency: ECBC, DPI

Mentors: John Schwarz

Teacher: Jessica Wukitsch


We intend to have the visiting STEM teacher support the deep UV TACTICAL-BIOLOGICAL Detector, which is supported by both JSTO and DARPA. We are engineering the current design to reduce production costs by moving away from metal components to molded plastic components. This material transition is expected to have some impact on many aspects of the sensor’s performance. The visiting STEM teacher will assist in performing flow visualization tests that consist of passing smoke through the optical cavity of the sensor, and then using a laser light source to illuminate and monitor what the smoke laden airflow is doing. The resulting visualizations will then be used to validate computational fluid dynamic simulations. The purpose of these measurements will be to understand the impact of substituting various plastics into the core detector design, as well as understanding changes in detector performance related to changes in the detector design. This information will be utilized in the final design of the deep UV TACTICAL-BIOLOGICAL Detector.

Agency: ECBC R&T Dir

Mentor: Jerry Cabalo

Teacher: Cathy Schlecker


Our Laboratory Portfolio say that they were willing to accommodate a chemistry teacher or a teacher with a strong interest in chemistry who would be interested in shadowing an Army Public Health Command chemist in our laboratory who is performing industrial hygiene and environmental chemical analyses.

Agency: Public Health Command

Mentor: Karen Costa


Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance

Our Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Portfolio said that they can accommodate an individual who is interested in shadowing one or more of our analysts for the two-week period. This could be done in any of our programs here (such as injury prevention of disease epidemiology). We don't have a specific project per se, and two weeks isn't sufficient time to do much more than observe. Specifically, the teacher could learn how we do behavioral health surveillance, track disease cases, or analyze injury data.

Agency: Public Health Command

Mentor: Laura Pacha

Teacher: Mary Nickerson