SSC-Natick Press Release
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: March 4, 2003
NATICK, Mass. — The Natick Soldier Center (NSRDEC) and University of Massachusetts (UMass) officially extended their relationship through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center Conference Center Feb. 19.
UMass President William Bulger and NSRDEC Director Philip Brandler signed the document, which renews the agreement for a cooperative working relationship in areas of mutual interest until Dec. 31, 2004. The initial agreement was signed Aug. 9, 2000.
"If a renewal of vows were a sign of a successful marriage, the renewal vows here are a symbol of a successful marriage between the NSRDEC and UMass," Brandler said.
According to the agreement, both parties will work together to identify, evaluate, qualify, research, develop, and commercialize appropriate concepts, technologies and products related to the individual warfighter or the warfighter's civilian equivalent engaged in high-risk occupations.
"The whole world has changed since the first signing," Bulger said. "This country catastrophically changed on Sept. 11, 2001. We learned a new imperative to help improve domestic safety. It's not just military but nurses, police officers and firefighters."
Several new initiatives arrive with the new MOU. The Student Work Experience Program will pay UMass students to work on projects when school is not in session. The program adds to the existing Career Related Experience in Science and Technology, cooperative education and intern positions for UMass students. The NSRDEC currently employs 72 UMass alumni, which is 15 percent of its work force.
NSRDEC employees will be able to take advantage of business courses offered through UMass online education to help them meet the requirements for membership in the Army Acquisition Corps, and UMass/NSRDEC working groups will be established and meet quarterly to discuss partnering opportunities.
NSRDEC will offer UMass-Dartmouth dying, printing and finishing machinery to support textile research and development. At UMass-Lowell, a contract will enable research and development of flexible solar cells for soldiers.
Overall, the NSRDEC provides more than $1 million per year to UMass.
During the one-hour event, Bulger received an overview of the Soldier Systems Center and Objective Force Warrior (OFW).
Brig. Gen. Craig Peterson, deputy commanding general for Homeland Operations and installation commander, discussed how the Army has changed emphasis from a heavy-weapons-based platform to a soldier-centric platform, which stresses the importance of the Soldier Systems Center's mission.
"The things designed here are extremely important to soldiers," Peterson said. "We have so many things, it's quite phenomenal."
The soldier-centric platform is dramatically displayed with the NSRDEC's OFW program, which was briefed by Dutch DeGay, with the OFW team. The program plans on revolutionizing the way the individual soldiers fights, making the soldier "an F-16 on legs," according to DeGay.
"We're looking forward to completing the new concept in warfighting, and our affiliation with higher institutes of learning will enable us to bring this vision into being," Brandler said.
The presentations provided a refresher for Bulger, who has visited the installation, but he said there's much more to learn, and was invited to return.
"We're pleased to be joined with the Center," Bulger said. "We are hopeful of being helpful to you and provide educational opportunities for students and staff."
For more information about SSC, please visit our website at http://www.natick.army.mil.