Campus & Community

New Jersey Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen Supports Stevens and Picatinny Arsenal Defense Research Collaborations

New Jersey Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen received a first-hand look at the numerous defense, homeland security and health care applications of pioneering research activities at Stevens Institute of Technology when he attended the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between Stevens and the U.S. Army Armaments Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), which is headquartered at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. The visit was hosted by Stevens Provost and University Vice President Dr. George Korfiatis.

Frelinghuysen, who is serving his tenth term as the Representative for New Jersey's 11th Congressional District, is a long-time advocate for improving national defense and homeland security and a major champion of work of Picatinny Arsenal. Stevens and Picatinny Arsenal also have an extensive history, having collaborated on cutting-edge research and technology development projects in a variety of fields, including systems engineering, weapons development, software engineering, homeland defense and environmental engineering. They have also joined forces on education programs to train defense industry leaders and military veterans, with Stevens providing onsite graduate education to Picatinny personnel and Picatinny frequently hiring Stevens graduates to serve as its next generation of scientists and engineers.

Frelinghuysen’s visit was concluded by the signing of a memorandum of understanding by Dr. Dinesh Verma, executive director of the Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC) and Barbara Machak, executive director for the Enterprise and Systems Integration Center (ESIC) within the ARDEC.

Mrs. Machak shared, “The memorandum describes an opportunity for ARDEC employees to pursue solutions to U.S. military systems engineering challenges as they pursue a doctoral-level degree. The memorandum reinforced the dual commitment of the SERC and ARDEC to pursue game-changing research, education and technology development activities which promote stronger national defense and homeland defense.” 

Before the signing ceremony, university leaders and faculty members introduced Frelinghuysen to the vast array of innovative research initiatives underway at Stevens which directly support these critical priorities.

Dr. Verma, who is dean of the School of Systems & Enterprises (SSE) at Stevens, provided an update to Frelinghuysen on the activities of the SERC, a U.S. Department of Defense University-Affiliated Research Center led by Stevens. With 23 collaborator universities and more than 350 researchers from across the nation, the SERC conducts research to solve systems-level challenges faced by the highly-complex government agencies and defense contractors which keep the nation safe from outside threats. Its current focus, as it concludes its fifth year of operation, is to transition into practice its masses of research on preparing systems engineers and technical leaders for the defense industry workforce, improving the resilience and agility of defense systems to respond to evolving threats, and modeling and measuring the impact of new technologies in complex operational environments.

Frelinghuysen also heard from Dr. Hady R. Salloum, director of advanced research programs at Stevens, and Dr. Alan Blumberg, director for the Center for Maritime Systems at Stevens, about research efforts to protect the nation’s ports and waterways from manmade and natural threats. The  Center for Secure and Resilient Maritime Commerce at Stevens, a Department of Homeland Security National Center of Excellence for Port Security, owns the patent for the Stevens Passive Acoustic Detection Systems (SPADES), which uses sound analysis to detect, track and classify vessels, swimmers and divers on the surface or underwater. SPADES, which has been tested in operational environments at U.S. Navy and Coast Guard facilities, improves upon sonar technology currently used by the U.S. Navy for waterway monitoring, in part because it cannot be detected. The CMS is focused on protecting against extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy through marine observation and prediction and urban coastal resilience projects. Stevens is the only university whose data on water currents, which is generated by the CMS, is utilized by a national weather agency.

Chemical and biomedical engineering research being conducted at Stevens can also benefit the military and its veterans. Dr. Woo Lee, director of the Center for Microchemical Systems at Stevens, described to Frelinghuysen how advances in additive manufacturing can be used for munitions development, energy storage and other security applications. Lee’s researchers are currently focused on using 3-D printing technology to study traumatic brain injury, which affected almost 30,000 soldiers in 2012 alone. Meanwhile, the newly-launched Center for Healthcare Innovation at Stevens, places the university at the leading-edge of critical research on medical devices, sensors, biomaterials, drug discovery, data mining and medical imaging. Dr. Peter Tolias, director of the CHI, outlined for Frelinghuysen one particularly promising research thrust – personalized medicine. By growing tissue cultures of individual patients in 3-D microfluidic chambers, Stevens researchers and hospital collaborators can assess the effectiveness of specific drugs on specific patients, and even develop better preventative measures for certain conditions like traumatic brain injury.

Frelinghuysen also toured the Center for Mass Spectrometry at Stevens, led by Dr. Athula Attygalle. Attygalle described how mass spectroscopy technology pioneered at Stevens can almost instantaneously analyze compounds, chemicals and materials such as TNT that are commonly used to make explosives.

The Congressman had lunch with three veterans who are pursuing degrees at Stevens. A total of 48 veterans are currently pursuing degrees at Stevens as part of the Yellow Ribbon Program directed by Professor Don Lombardi.