As the research branch of the Nevada System of Higher Education, DRI has and continues to provide research and development support and products for the US Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and the Department of Energy, among others. Research and development projects are staffed and approached using processes and procedures tailored to the client need. The following narrative describes how DRI approaches Research and Development tasking.
Fundamental research and development projects are hypothesis driven and utilize the scientific method to formulate an approach to address the hypothesis, conduct the research using the DRI’s state-of-art laboratories, visualization and computational capabilities, and disseminate the results of the work to the client and a broader audience where allowable by contract. DRI technical staff and faculty have conducted fundamental research with competitively awarded projects by ONR and SERDP, for example.
Applied research and development projects are question or problem driven and utilize a blend of the scientific method and engineering approach to bound possible solutions. The typical applied research and development project is scoped in collaboration with the client and the work scope is broken into incremental step-wise blocks that are designed to produce intermediate results to the project Team. Regular team meetings are held to review these intermediate results, determine if there is enough of the answer to satisfy the question or problem, and adjust the approach or direction if necessary. This incremental approach drives early project stakeholder involvement and is used as a best practice to drive down project costs because often a ‘good enough’ answer is provided to the client without having to run the project all the way through to completion as is typically done with a fundamental research and development project.
Specific Subcontract Examples of DRI’s applied research for use on Navy Ohio Replacement Program, SSP:
- A project to determine the fate and transport of lead (Pb) in the gas generator of the Trident D5 launch system. This required estimating the physical and chemical properties of the gas and aerosol plume formed at muzzle broach during a legacy Trident D5 launch test at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. No plume measurements were taken during the launch testing that occurred in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and so first principles were used to derive likely bounds on particle size distribution, gaseous speciation chemistry and temperature profiles from temperature and pressure data at the aft-end of the test vehicle. This information was then used to parameterize a numerical aerosol plume transport model to estimate the fate and transport of aerosolized lead (Pb) – a National Ambient Air Quality Criteria Pollutant. The model was then used to inform decision makers as to the probable impacts of that lead-containing plume on nearby threatened and endangered species and an elementary school at NOTU Cape Canaveral. This work led to moving the Trident D5 launch test facility to the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, CA.
- The total land holding at NAWS China Lake is 1.1 million acres, and the Navy is tasked with land stewardship and preservation of biological and cultural resources within the fence line. The classic means of locating, identifying and mapping these resources is with a boots-on-ground survey to walk an area of interest – a time intensive and expensive task that negatively impacts Ranges usability during the survey. DRI has developed a method to aerially map surface soil age, which when used in conjunction with the quaternary history of the landforms at China Lake, provides a map of areas that are good candidate locations for archeological sites, and those that are not. Areas that have had erosion, sand dune formation or sediment transport that create surface land forms that are younger than the archeological ages of interest, those areas can be excluded from the intensive ground survey effort which leads to significant cost savings to the Navy.
DRI and NESEP science and engineering technical staff and faculty provide engineering and systems engineering subcontract support to the Ohio Replacement Program, the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division (NAWCWD) Trident Program Office, and the NAWCWD Ranges Department. Support is provided by:
- Conduct research to locate and collect information needed to proceed toward a solution
- Provide the client with conceptual design alternatives
- Participate in feasibility assessments, and down select processes
- Approach client engineering needs with intent to bound anticipated system behavior that then informs facility or system design requirements.
- Provide neutral, third-party engineering support to the entire Navy stakeholder team – including government and corporate entities. Effective engineering is impossible without effective communication across the team.
- Provide engineering framework, design, review, computational (numerical, modeling, visualization), and documentation in these areas of engineering expertise: civil, mechanical, geotechnical and environmental
- Support the Government Design Review Process at all steps as members of elements, focus groups and program advisors.
- Launch Test Capability (LTC) Design and Acquisition efforts include:
- Contributor to the proposal to design and operate the LTC
- Provided several conceptual LTC designs to the Navy Design Team
- Participated in the feasibility assessments and down-select process for the LTC and additional supporting design elements
- Provided continuous technical support and leadership in the design process that was challenged by the need to integrate novel and unproven design solutions, which drove the need to bound expected behavior that in turn allowed element quantitative design to proceed
- Currently provide technical leadership in the final stages of the Design Review process for the LTC
- Engineering analysis to provide data and modeling products that are integrated into the structural design of many elements of the launch platform and arrestment structures
- Technical review and guidance to all LTC elements
- Emerging/crisis technical problem solving
- Mobile Crawler Crane Acquisition, and Operation Method Analysis
- Development of the CONOPS and test schedule for arrestment media delivery, placement, in-test management
- DRI NESEP is jointly leading the arrestment media acquisition element for LTC
- Create a specification for the arrestment media (a geomaterial) by bounding key parameters using scaled drop test data, and numerical modeling analysis.
- Create a criteria acceptance design
- Organize and plan for the logistics of production/delivery/acceptance/placement
DRI technical staff and faculty use numerical modeling, simulation and analysis as part of work performed in Functional Areas 1 and 2. DRI invests in and maintains computational capability to support large-scale numerical simulation projects using multi-physics software (e.g. LS-DYNA, TOUGH, COMSOL), hydrologic software (e.g. MODFLOW, HYDRUS) and spatial analysis codes (e.g. ESRI).
DRI Specific Program Subcontract Experience, Ohio Replacement Program’s Launch Test Capability Team:
Modeling aerosol plume fate, transport, deposition, and exposure (described in Functional Area #1)
Modeling dissolved metal (lead, cadmium, chromium) fate and transport in soils demonstrating that a secondary containment liner system was not required at NAWS China Lake Launch Test Facility (LTF)
This work was reviewed and accepted with no revisions by the NAVFAC-SW review team, and is estimated to save the Government several million dollars over the course of the LTC program
Constructing a comprehensive numerical groundwater model for NAWS China Lake and surrounding community to inform critical resource conservation decision-making. In progress.
Creating a high spatial and temporal resolution model to forecast meteorological conditions in support of LTF CONOPS. In progress.
Model will provide a NOWCAST of meteorological conditions over the subsequent four to six hours to assist the LTC firing officer in shot planning and critical lift scheduling with the LTF 500-ton mobile crawler crane
All DRI projects are documented, reviewed and published in accordance with contract terms and conditions. As a science and engineering organization, the need to thoroughly document and review work is a foundational and essential activity. DRI’s administrative staff assists with this Functional Area by providing clerical, format review and archival support.
DRI has served as a subcontractor on the Ohio Replacement Program, the NAWCWD Trident Program Office and the NAWCWD Ranges Department by:
- Conducting the tasking in Functional Areas 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11 and then preparing Technical Reports (TR) and Technical Presentations (TP) to support the numerous review steps that are part of the Government Design Review Process. Ongoing.
- Providing Technical Review of numerous design element TR and TP products. Ongoing.
- Key participant in creating Critical Lift Packages for the LTF 500-ton mobile crawler crane
Per their subcontract, DRI NESEP technical staff and faculty have gained experience in designing, developing, integrating, and maintaining the software and hardware systems that comprise the Real Time Environmental Monitoring and Alert System (REMAS). This FOUO system provides web-based real-time and historical environmental data and alerting capabilities in support of NAWCWD Ranges Department and Trident Program Office operations. REMAS operates under a DIACAP C&A endorsed by NAVAIRSYSCOM. REMAS is comprised of a mixture of software and hardware components:
- Integration of multiple software packages, including both COTS and in-house proprietary code to support data collection, transmission, storage, analysis, and presentation
- Modification of COTS software to improve REMAS system performance and user experience
- Installation, programming, and maintenance of a datalogger network to acquire sensor data
- Design, installation, and maintenance of an (a) encrypted RF communications network, (b) encrypted VPN data link between China Lake and DRI, and (c) an isolated DMZ at DRI to house servers and networking equipment the comprise REMAS.
- Role-based REMAS web portal system provides access to data and features
- REMAS services are modified as needed or requested to improve the user experience and/or provide new functionality to assist client needs
All tasking that the DRI NESEP technical staff and faculty are engaged in or have completed for the NAWCWD Trident Program Office and Ohio Replacement Program as a subcontractor contain elements of this Human Factors Functional Area. Examples of how the DRI NESEP technical staff performs in this Functional Area include:
- Foundational participant in the design process for the LTF.
- Many early design concepts were eliminated due to Human Factors, Performance, and Usability factors.
- Key participant in creating Critical Lift Packages for the LTF 500-ton mobile crawler crane
All of the tasking that the DRI NESEP technical staff and faculty are engaged in or have completed as a sub for the NAWCWD Trident Program Office and Ohio Replacement Program contains elements of this Safety Engineering Functional Area. Examples of how the DRI NESEP technical staff and faculty have performed in this Functional Area include:
- Determining the safe working wind speed limit for the LTF 500-ton mobile crawler crane
- Demonstrating the need to include meteorological forecasting in the LTF firing sequence schedule (includes elements of Functional Areas 1, 2, 3)
- Developing the Real Time Monitoring and Alert System (REMAS) for the NAWCWD Trident Program Office
- Key participant in creating Critical Lift Packages for the LTF 500-ton mobile crawler crane
DRI utilizes Quality Assurance (QA) techniques throughout the organization. DRI employs a full-time PhD Quality Assurance Officer who drafts, reviews and maintains the QA documentation for many of DRI’s programs, including NESEP subcontract support. The DOE Program complies with the DOE Quality Assurance requirements, which is the responsibility of each project team lead. Quality Assurance best practices and techniques is a mainstay of DRI’s operation.
Specific Program examples of Quality Assurance Support:
National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP) for the state of Texas.
DRI participated in Quality Assurance accreditation and certification programs for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) under the NELAP Program to qualify DRI’s Environmental Analysis Facility (EAF). As a result the DRI EAF is accredited for the following functions:
- Air & Emissions Matrix
- Total Suspended Particulate (TSP) by 40 CFR Part 50 Appendix B
- Particulates <10 µm (PM10) by 40 CFR Part 50 Appendix J
- Fine particulates <2.5 µm (PM2.5) by 40 CFR Part 50 Appendix L
DRI has been accredited for the above each year since 2007. The current accreditation certificate, # T104704271-14-5, was issued by the TCEQ on 7/1/14 and goes through 6/30/15.
Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) program for the EPA
In addition, as one of the laboratories that performs analyses for EPA’s Chemical Special Network and the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) program, the EAF has participated in annual performance evaluation (PE) and inter-laboratory inter-comparisons conducted by EPA’s National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory (NAREL) since 2005. The EAF also has technical systems audits (TSAs) conducted by a NAREL audit team approximately every three years. The PEs, inter-comparisons, and TSAs cover mass by gravimetry, elements by energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence (EDXRF), anions and cations by Ion chromatography (IC) and carbon analysis by the IMPROVE_A thermo-optical reflectance/ thermo optical transmittance (TOR/TOT) protocol.
Evidence of DRI expertise in performance of this Functional Area include:
- Development of a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) for an Open-Burn, Open-Detonation R&D project for the NAWCWD Weapons and Energetics Department.
- NESEP volunteered to take this task on, and the first draft of the QAPP was accepted with minor revisions, which reportedly saved the project significant time and money
- Successful Foundation of the Real Time Monitoring and Alert System (REMAS) on QA principles due to criticality and security needed for the data, analysis, and decision making that REMAS is designed to provide to the NAWCWD Trident Program Office and to LTC.
DRI NESEP technical staff and faculty have developed knowledge, experience and an outstanding reputation in this Functional Area in the course of developing the Real Time Environmental Monitoring and Alert System (REMAS) as a subcontractor on the NAWCWD Ranges Department and Trident Program Office. An essential aspect of the development of REMAS is the REMAS website which is hosted by DRI NESEP at its Reno campus. DRI NESEP technical staff and faculty engaged the NAWS China Lake IS, IA, and IT communities to develop a path toward a successful DIACAP C&A. DRI NESEP technical staff and faculty engaged these communities as extensions of the NAWCWD customer. The response to this approach from the IS, IA, and IT communities was immediate and positive, eventually leading to the signing of the DRI NESEP DIACAP C&A by a NAVAIRSYSCOM. A Business Unit Validator Endorsement Memo (BUVEM) was issued May 2014. The processes DRI uses for IS, IT, and IA support to the Navy included:
- Development and maintenance of an isolated DMZ network at DRI that contains the hardware and software that comprises REMAS
- Ensuring ongoing compliance of the REMAS DIACAP C&A and IS and IA requirements
- Provisions for REMAS to collect and process data at the FOUO level
- Security Assurance for REMAS comprised of an on-base network of dataloggers communicating through encrypted RF network and secure computing infrastructure used to store, process, analyze, and present data
- Ensuring the entire REMAS system is client-owned and client-operated
All previous and current DRI NESEP tasking as a sub with the Navy shows experience in this Functional Area. Experience and knowledge that DRI has gained by learning how to be an effective NAWCWD Ranges Department stakeholder, coupled with DRI’s unique culture and business model, has enabled DRI NESEP to provide new and innovative technical approaches for the customer. Examples of DRI expertise in this Functional Area include:
- Key participant in the Ohio Replacement Program as described previously.
- The Launch Test Facility (LTF) will be built on the China Lake Range.
- Creator of the Real Time Environmental and Alert System for NAWCWD Trident Program Office (TPO)
- 24/7 monitoring, analysis and alerting of temperature, relative humidity and shore power in all TPO magazines and test bays (all located on the NAWCWD Range)
- Temperature history for past 30-days is a critical parameter for D5 motor test evaluation (firing)
- REMAS data, analysis, alarms available 24/7 by the DRI NESEP hosted REMAS website (see Functional Area #6, 12)
- DRI NESEP REMAS replaced a non-functioning system
- DRI NESEP REMAS is saving the Government time and money by alerting to HVAC and power problems much earlier than previously possible, which prevents test evaluation delays
- DRI NESEP REMAS will be leveraged to provide this same service to other Ranges Department customers, such as LTC/LTF and the NAWCWD Salt Wells ordnance scale-up facility.
DRI is an educational Institution where teaching and training are integral to the organization. As such, DRI contributes significantly to workforce training. Students are enrolled in graduate programs at one of the two Universities, but are employed by DRI on projects. While DRI does not grant degrees, it does provide its graduate student population with an immersive work experience that emphasizes responsiveness, attention to detail, accountability and effective communication.
Specific REMAS Subcontract Experience for NAWCWD Ranges and Trident Program Office
DRI Technical Training expertise is exemplified by our development and integration of specific REMAS training software training for NAWCWD. The REMAS software has been designed to be as easy and intuitive to use as possible (see # 6 and 12 previously), but the capabilities offered by REMAS are sophisticated enough that no amount of software design can prevent the need for effective training and teaching of staff to gain all the utility and usefulness that the system offers. DRI NESEP personnel have developed training materials to induct new staff in the basics of how to use the system. As the REMAS capability set grew, it became very clear that a single training manual, or face-to-face training session was not entirely effective at delivering the information needed. DRI NESEP programmers then took the initiative to develop an on-line ‘wiki’ that is available for the content on each page of the REMAS website that explains in clear and concise text what the function does and how to use it. Staff can now ‘self-teach’ using the wiki for those aspects of the system that they need, when they need it. REMAS personnel also provide telephone support and perform on-site training or review session when requested. Training also provides insight and feedback that are used to improve REMAS services provided to the client.
The four DRI technical staff and faculty who form the nucleus of expertise on this proposal have a combined 119 years of experience planning, organizing, and staffing, inspiring and nurturing, and leading team efforts in large R&D and design projects. These same principles apply to acquisition programs, such as the LTC which DRI NESEP technical staff and faculty have been intimately engaged in and productive participants in since LTC inception. DRI’s approach to providing Program Support in a subcontractor role is as follows:
- Effective and lean leadership throughout the organization
- Common platform planning and organizing tools (MS Project, ARGIS Financial Tracking)
- Active and dynamic team building, engagement and dissolution to effect rapid on-task solutions as they emerge in the design process
- Commitment to inspiring and nurturing technical staff and faculty and staff to ‘own’ their part of the project, with the consequent development of individual stakeholders and sense of pride in the work product which translates to outstanding products for the customer
- Commitment to identifying, mentoring and challenging DRI NESEP technical staff and faculty to become the next generation of team leads, program managers, program directors and executive management.
- DRI operates on the principles of non-profit, transparency in accounting, accountability to the customer, engagement as a neutral third-party (DRI isn’t selling a product), outstanding service to the customer while on-schedule and on-budget.
- DRI understands the sometimes complex project control and reporting requirements that accompany federal contracts. Personnel and systems are in place to accommodate earned-value reporting, analysis of budget and schedule versus actuals, including variance analysis and running projection of estimates at complete (EACs). Scope, schedule, and budget for baseline development and change control are regularly constructed to support agency program needs, with systems to integrate baseline estimates, execution year plans, and monthly status reporting. Systems are in place for tracking and reporting government property, labor hours, and safety records, as needed for compliance with regulations and directives.