Researchers win Army Modeling and Simulation award

Research mechanical engineer, Dr. Luis Bravo, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, Vehicle Technology Directorate, stands before a high-resolution 3-D simulation of the engine fuel injection process, which he created with supercomputers. Bravo won the Army's 2017 Modeling and Simulation award for his achievement in the development of extreme-scale interface science models. U.S. Army photo by David McNally

The U.S. Army recently announced the winners of its 2017 Army Modeling and Simulation competition. The theme was, “Win in a Complex World – Mission Ready, Fiscally Responsible.”

In the individual category for Analysis, Dr. Luis Bravo, from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Vehicle Technology Directorate, took honors for his achievement in developing complex computer modeling to simulate the physics behind fossil and alternative fuels interaction in combustion engines.

Simulation modeling is a process researchers use to create and analyze a digital rendering of a physical model and predict its performance in the real world. ARL researchers use high-fidelity modeling and simulation on supercomputers to help discover, innovate and transition technology solutions for the Army of the future.

“I’m honored to be recognized by the Army modeling and simulation community for individual excellence in analysis and research and to be making an impact within my organization at this early stage of my career,” Bravo said.

Bravo serves as a principal investigator for the lab’s efforts in multi-fuel conversion for advanced propulsion systems at APG.

“Modeling and simulation — enabled by high performance computing — is crucial to my field of research in combustion and turbomachinery sciences not only for the design of next generation propulsion innovations but also for scientific discovery at extreme scales and regimes that remain inaccessible to laboratory experiments,” Bravo said.

Bravo’s extreme scale interface-science models “enable scientists to understand the underpinning physics by exploring massive amounts of data at scales that are extremely challenging and costly to measure experimentally,” Dr. Chol Bum “Mike” Kweon, chief of the lab’s Propulsion Division, wrote in Bravo’s nomination. “Such insights cannot be obtained through modern experimentation, and they are invaluable for guiding the development of stable, reliable systems providing major time and cost savings.”

“His work is expected to contribute toward the solution of Army S&T challenges and for the development of next generation innovations in combustion and turbomachinery sciences,” Kweon said.

Bravo said working at ARL has been challenging and rewarding.

“Sometimes we have to think outside the box to address technology gap areas and lay out high risk scientific concepts to find new solutions to longstanding problems that can have an impact not only to the defense sector, but also the industry and civilian sector,” Bravo said. “I also enjoy very much working side by side with experts in many disciplines across ARL who have provided invaluable career mentorship and technical guidance throughout my tenure at ARL.”

In the team category, six researchers from the lab’s Survivability, Lethality Analysis Directorate won with their entry, “Battlefield Lethality Analysis of the Patriot Missile against Airborne Threats.”

Team lead Marianne Kunkel, and five analysts and engineers, Scott Butler, James Edwards, John Valek, Timothy Mallory and Brian Smith, completed two ballistic experimentation programs to generate data that enabled ARL to complete an extensive lethality analysis against threats.

“This analysis provided the data that was the sole source of lethality data demonstrating that the missile met its requirements,” said Ricky Grote, ARL’s System Engineering and Experimentation branch chief. “Our program analyzed effectiveness at defeating airborne threats in near-miss scenarios.”

Grote said evaluating these threats in a modeling and simulation environment saved the Army millions of dollars by avoiding the expense of a “system-level live fire test program.”

“I was very happy to see our team had won the award,” Kunkel said. “It’s a special feeling to know your work has been recognized by the Army. I was fortunate to be able to work on a project with such highly skilled and dedicated professionals.”

Kunkel said every one of her team member’s contribution to the project was essential to its success.

“I am proud to have worked on the program and support the decision makers with critical fragment penetration data,” Mallory said. “I served as an ARL/SLAD technical assistant to the director for air defense systems in 1995, and assisted in the Patriot Advanced Capability – 3 program planning stage. It is fulfilling to have worked on PAC-3 again 20-plus years later.”

Valek, a mechanical engineer on the team, said receiving the award is a “tremendous honor.”

“It does provide additional drive knowing that both your own organization and the wider Army feel that the team’s work is of such high quality that it should be recognized with this award,” Valek said. “I take pride in my job and feel the Army Research Laboratory’s mission is vital especially given today’s global climate and current events.”

Other scientists and engineers within the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command also received honors in the team categories, including four employees from the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center and four from the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (see announcement memorandum).

The contest acknowledges the Army’s modeling and simulation workforce’s “dedication to excellence,” said Dr. William Forrest Crain, director of the Army’s Center for Army Analysis at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Crain said the center evaluated 34 nominations selecting 11 winners – seven teams and four individuals.

“Your efforts to help provide our Army and Soldiers with modeling and simulation enabling capabilities that support their readiness and mission accomplishment,” he told the award winners in the announcement.