Campus & Community

In Service of Those Who Serve

Faculty, students continue to support military, veterans through research

aerial photo of Stevens campus featuring the Howe Center and the American flag

Stevens’ long history of assisting the U.S. government’s military and security efforts, such as performing testing and development in the historic Davidson Lab, has been well documented.

But the university’s students and alumni may not realize that support continues, in force, today. 

One faculty group, for instance — headed by Center for Environmental Systems director Christos Christodoulatos Ph.D. ’91 — operates a comprehensive, Department of Defense (DoD)-supported program to research, design and demonstrate cleaner, greener, more energy-efficient military facilities

Another project, a collaboration between Electrical and Computer Engineering professor Yu-Dong Yao and adjunct faculty member Yingying Chen (who is now at Rutgers University), works to develop more reliable, more secure mobile networks designed for battlefield environments and applications.

The Stevens-led Systems Engineering Research Center (SERC), a consortium of more than 20 member institutions, has received significant support from DoD since 2008 for its continuing mission to train, ready and recruit systems engineers and develop complex defense systems, services and enterprises. 

And the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated Stevens’ Maritime Security Center, which provides education programs and conducts research to enhance port and maritime security, as a National Center of Excellence in 2014. 

Government defense agencies also support Stevens research addressing broader societal concerns, such as cancer therapy research performed by Stevens breast cancer expert Abhishek Sharma (funded in part by DoD); artificial intelligence research conducted by College of Arts & Letters Dean Kelland Thomas, which receives DoD Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funding; and the wide-ranging cybersecurity research performed by Stevens professor Susanne Wetzel.

 In addition, a host of other projects — many so sensitive they can’t be discussed — probe such wide-ranging challenges as improving sensors; identifying and classifying drones and small planes; detecting and warning of hazardous gas emissions; countering terrorism and biological warfare; and designing faster planes, rockets and military watercraft. 

Student teams have also long supported military needs and veterans’ issues through their own research projects. Stevens’ 2019 Innovation Expo, for example, featured at least four student-team projects with direct potential applications for serving veterans or military personnel:

  • The Mira Therapeutics project (previously known as MiraView) has for two years worked on developing a digital platform to treat and assist veterans and others with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), both during incidents and by transmitting information to associated healthcare providers.
  • Another project, a combat boot-mounted monitor for soldiers, collects physical activity data from soldiers’ feet, then recharges its battery overnight to prepare for long, 17-hour days of training.
  • A third effort, an automated ordnance- loading system for military tactical aircraft, has been in development for four years and promises to replace the labor of five naval aircraft carrier personnel with a device one person can operate. The student team claims its proprietary system is capable of handling, moving and loading ordnance configurations as heavy as two tons.
  • And a fourth team designed a portable, lightweight ladder that can be expanded and deployed quickly in the field when obstacles are confronted — then compactly telescoped back down, retracted and stashed in a backpack.

Other student research at the university has involved such notable projects as the design of improved flotation vests for use in the sea; exoskeleton armor that protects personnel while allowing freedom of movement; and explosive-detecting underwater robots.