Intern helps military aviators improve performance in the air Meet Brendan Gallagher


Brendan Gallagher in front of the disorientation research device (DRD). (Photo credit: Samantha Keller)

Brendan Gallagher sparked his fascination with flight and technology while watching Star Wars with his family. His love of math and science, as well as his interest in working with his dad on household projects, inspired him to begin designing and building his own contraptions. Gallagher pursued this passion further by earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Wright State University, embarking on a lifelong journey of learning.

During his freshman year at Wright State University, Gallagher discovered the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) and knew this program offered a crucial next step for him. “To me it seemed invaluable to be able to start getting hands on experience this early in my career,” he said, emphasizing the significant of internships.

Under ORISE, Gallagher joined with Naval Medical Research Unit-Dayton (NAMRU-D), which conducts research on environmental health effects and aerospace medicine to address the health and performance challenges faced by military personnel in operational environments.

Gallagher started out with the Sensors Lab team of the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory (NAMRL), but transferred to the Engineering and Technical Support Services (ETSS) team. ETSS maintains and operates the disorientation research device (DRD) and provides technical support for all other research conducted at NAMRL.

The DRD, also referred to as the “Kraken™," provides realistic simulation of aerospace environments by replicating the vehicle’s dynamic motion so researchers can evaluate the physiological effects on aircrew. Gallagher, along with ETSS, helps maintain the DRD so that it can be used to improve the quality of life for military aviators, which will allow them to do their job more efficiently. However, ETSS does not conduct the research themselves.

As an intern, Gallagher has gained a wealth of knowledge, including learning the critical role that user interface has in the final design of simulation systems. He also enhanced his manufacturing knowledge, to include gaining a deeper understanding of how items must be constructed for the environments in which they will be used. Such insights often require first-hand experience.

“In order to simulate certain environments, it is occasionally necessary to experience the real deal first. As a result, I have had the opportunity to use a fire hose in order to model and fabricate a firefighting task for a project,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher believes the skills he has gained through his ORISE internship will enable him to collaborate effectively, troubleshoot problems with a team and manage resources throughout his career. After his appointment concludes, Gallagher plans to continue with NAMRL and the DRD.

“This experience has been eye-opening, seeing everything that goes into designing a system from start to finish, whether it’s for an environment of motion or for virtual simulations,” said Gallagher. “I would definitely recommend this program to others.”

The Naval Medical Research Unit-Dayton (NAMRU-D) program is managed by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) under an interagency agreement with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).