MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia -- An expanded modeling and simulation facility opened for business Nov. 12 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. Marine Corps Systems Command and Georgia Tech Research Institute officials joined those from federal, state and local government to unveil the state-of-the-art, multi-use site, which offers customized service for agencies eager to develop a broad spectrum of capabilities for the warfighter.
Virginia Rep. Rob Wittman, Prince William County Supervisor Maureen Caddigan and Marine Corps officials headed a delegation gathered at the warfare center designated for use by military, industry and academia alike.
“Modeling and simulation lets us integrate real-world data to our troops. It’s absolutely critical,” Wittman said. “Not only is it in the best interest of the nation, it’s in the best interest of the Marine Corps. Having the opportunity we have before us today is absolutely spectacular.”
The congressman added that modeling and simulation helps put systems into the battlefield that Marines can use to help them return home safely. The end results give U.S. warfighters an advantage, Wittman said, “[which is OK because] I don’t ever want to put Marines in a fair fight.”
The 2,700 square foot modeling and simulation facility will provide Georgia Tech’s customers with a broad spectrum of capabilities and support services, including workstations and training, 3-D visualization and virtual reality, connectivity to Naval System Warfare Centers and the Marine Corps Framework for Assessing, Cost and Technology, known as FACT™. Together, these tools will give Department of Defense customers cutting-edge technology to complement access to world-class researchers.
MCSC Modeling and Simulation Division Director Mike O'Neal has made it a priority to put the newly opened facility to good use, often talking with military, industry and academia about putting FACT in play for them.
“The facility is not exclusive to MCSC,” he said. “We can build the capacity to customize service and make it available for other agencies. We’re tasked with supporting efforts such as the warfare centers.”
The new space features a modular layout with the capability for simultaneous modeling and simulation. This includes workstations for single-seat model development; a collaboration area for small workgroups with computer and visualization equipment support; another collaboration area for larger workgroups; and a modeling and simulation laboratory for detailed engineering and prototyping support.
Jim Smerchansky, chief engineer for the Marine Corps, said the Georgia Tech modeling and simulation facility complements and supports the Marine Corps. He said the key to the process is predictive analysis. This encompasses a variety of statistical techniques, including modeling, to make predictions about future events.
“This supports continuous process improvement to maintain and sustain our ground equipment, electronic and weapons systems,” Smerchansky said.
At MCSC, Smerchansky is deputy commander for Systems Engineering, Interoperability, Architectures and Technology, giving him added insight into the command’s relationship with Georgia Tech.
“Georgia Tech’s assistance in the development of FACT provides us a tool for comprehensive analysis,” he said. “The combination of predictive analysis and FACT is instrumental in MCSC's plan to efficiently and effectively execute programs as part of Department of Defense Better Buying Power initiatives."
To that end, research tools, managed by MCSC and Georgia Tech will support model-based systems engineering, weapon system acquisition, systems engineering trade-space analysis, operations analysis and training.
O’Neal noted that the payoff from modeling and simulation can be immediate and lifesaving. He cited one example where FACT was used in the Fuel Efficiency Demonstrator project that sought to achieve 30 percent greater fuel efficiency in its vehicle. Based on performance modeling now encompassed in FACT, the FED design blew past the goal with a 70 percent increase in fuel efficiency.
“If we can reduce the number of convoys needed to bring supplies to Marines by shortening the logistics tail of the system with which they are equipped, that many fewer Marines are placed in harm’s way,” O’Neal said. “We’re using modeling and simulation to make a difference for Marines in the operating forces, and that’s the important thing.”