South Dakota Mines students working with Department of Defense through innovation course

South Dakota Mines students are working with the National Security Innovation Network in groups where they're forced them to find intuitive, create solutions to problems that can affect National Security.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Students at South Dakota Mines are being given a rare opportunity to train with the National Security Innovation Network, a program office with the U.S. Department of Defense.

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In a new course called “Innovating for National Security”, which is based on the nationally recognized curriculum of the Hacking for Defense course (H4D) and is designed for students to create solutions to address upcoming threats and national security concerns.

Three teams have been assembled to look at issues that pose a threat to national security with two teams working on issues that exist with Ellsworth Air Force Base.

  • The first team is working with the 28th Civil Engineering Squadron at Ellsworth and is working to improve the duration and lifecycle of concrete parking locations for the base’s B-1 aircraft. The parking pads have to be replaced every three years as compared to a 20-year period of time where other portions of the airfield need replaced. The need for replacing the concrete parking locations that house the B-1 aircraft is due to high temperature from the aircraft’s exhaust and fluids that come into contact with the concrete.
  • The second team is working with the 28th Maintenance Group at the base and is working to build a new computer systems that will help maintenance group commanders process and organize data in faster and more efficient way. This will help to make the decision making process faster and easier.
  • The third and final team will work with the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency or (JPRA) missing in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. JPRA is responsible for planning and recovery operations for deploying DoD personnel. Those working on this project will help to build a more modernized way to support the DoD personnel. Students will have the opportunity to help military members in every branch by providing more accurate information in substantially less amount of time.

When it comes to solving problems, relationships among universities, students and communities is a huge factor in solving a problem that may present itself in the future.

“Part of what ‘NSIN’ is doing is over time, we’re trying to develop these relationships, these long-term enduring networks,” said Jason Combs, the University Program Director at the South Dakota School of Mines. “So the universities, the students, the local communities and the bases all can be able to communicate together.”

Combs also said that the students must be focused on making sure that the first problem is mainly the core problem in their respective groups. He also said that the language and vernacular of the DOD has been missing as a teaching tool, but says that the objective of the course is being able recognize the problem while also finding a measurable/repeatable outcome and solution.

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