MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy had the opportunity to get their sea legs in acquisition last month through Program Executive Officer Land Systems’ annual summer internship program.
PEO Land Systems manages the acquisition of major land weapons systems and ground vehicles for the Marine Corps. The PEO Land Systems Internship Program was established in 2013 as a way to introduce cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Military Academy and USNA to the world of Marine Corps acquisition and, more recently, additive manufacturing.
“Our goal is to give engineering students an appreciation for how we acquire Marine Corps capabilities,” said John Stroud, assistant program executive officer for Engineering at PEO Land Systems. “There is a lot that goes on at PEO Land Systems and Marine Corps Systems Command, so we wanted to show the interns—behind the scenes—how our civilians and military work together to get the capabilities out to Marines.”
During the monthlong internship, the midshipmen were given the opportunity to get a firsthand look at some of the Corps’ major ground vehicles and systems, such as Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar, Assault Amphibious Vehicle, the M1A1 Abrams tank and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
“It was a really unique opportunity, especially as midshipmen who aren’t even commissioned yet, to learn and try to understand the [acquisition] process,” said Midshipman Sean Kelsay, an ocean engineering major at USNA. “You know that the people working [at PEO LS and MCSC] care so much about what they’re doing and want to help those using the equipment. That was pretty eye-opening, and it gave me a greater appreciation for what they’re doing.”
In addition to learning about the acquisition workforce, midshipmen were given the opportunity to interface with the end-users of the various systems—the Marines themselves.
“I thought it was really cool seeing all phases of the engineering and acquisition and logistics of how things get out to Marines, and then Marines saying how it’s used in the field,” said Midshipman Riley Hogan, a systems engineering major. “Just seeing the whole big picture together, but also seeing how much is required to get to [the final product] was really impressive.”
The Naval interns were also tasked with designing, developing and presenting a three-dimensional navigation board prototype for Marines to potentially use in the future.
“We were asked to make a navigation board that holds a [phone], a GPS system and a compass,” said Jack Snauko, a midshipman majoring in robotics and control engineering. “It’s just a simple board that folds down and folds back up, holds all three components and allows Marines to look at them hands-free.”
PEO LS provided the interns with a list of requirements and access to MCSC’s Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell to build the system. AMOC provides Marines and program offices at PEO LS and MCSC with the tools to rapidly develop prototype components that can then be evaluated for potential use either as a temporary solution or a future permanent improvement to an existing system.
In this case, the navigation board the interns developed is designed to interface with Marines’ existing MOLLE gear.
“We made different iterations,” Midshipman Timothy Johnson, an ocean engineering major, said about the project. “We printed one version, reprinted a different version when we found out what problems the first one had, and then streamlined the solution.”
The interns briefed their navigation board solution, which they called MOLLE Applicable Panel System, to the deputy Program Executive Officer and staff on the final day of their internship.
While the PEO LS internship was designed to provide interns with a closer look at the Marine Corps systems acquisition process, it also exposed the interns to what is arguably the acquisition process’ greatest asset—the people.
“During this internship, I definitely got a greater appreciation for the people who move mountains for the Marine Corps and the people who are so dedicated,” said Midshipman Kayla Eshleman, an English major at USNA. “So many people care about what they’re doing and how their work supports Marines. That reaffirmed my desire to join the Corps.”