$237K Navy grant funds 3-D simulation research

September 30, 2016

Researchers from the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing (SOIC) at IUPUI and the Electrical Engineering Department (ECE) at the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI received a $237K grant from the Office of Naval Research for improving the effectiveness of military training by advancing the state of the art in 3-D visualization of radio frequency (RF) signals in the existing battlefield simulation environment.

Faculty members Albert William (SOIC) and Lauren Christopher (ECE) designed the research project to balance STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) research and educational tasks, with the goal of strengthening existing collaborations between SOIC, ECE, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC-Crane).

Limestone sign for naval Support Activity, CraneElectronic simulations are an important tool for military training—and stereoscopic, or 3-D, viewing significantly improves performance. However, there is no current representation of the radio frequency (RF) signals that are important to understanding battlefield conditions. RF is used to communicate with and locate moving assets, such as planes, ships, and missiles. The new visualization will include an indication of when the assets are within reliable range of each other.

The collaboration will improve the Navy’s Electronic Warfare (EW) training environment and deliver 3-D enhancements to NSWC-Crane for testing and validation. “This collaboration grew out of my visiting faculty summer position at NSWC-Crane and contact with current and past IUPUI students now working there.” Christopher said.

The research also seeks to educate a supply of excellent STEM graduates for years to come. A 3-D Electronic Warfare Visualization laboratory will be established under the direction of William and Christopher. Another key component is a new course that combines RF and EW expertise with 3-D visualization. The project-based course will be developed and taught at the college level, targeted for informatics and engineering students.

“We have hoped for some time to work with NSWC-Crane and are pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with them on this project, developing this technology along with our students,” William said.

The ongoing collaboration with NSWC-Crane will lead to summer internships for the students involved with the research. Additionally, the plan for this course is to make it available online, so it can be used in guided or stand-alone training for existing NSWC-Crane employees.

The School of Informatics and Computing Department of Human-Centered Computing has strong expertise in 3-D visualization and media production. Informatics students will develop dynamic skills in 3-D visualization, and in designing and producing computer graphics applied to military training goals.

The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department features research programs in signal processing and RF for EW. Engineering students will gain a deep understanding of RF signals—a key to understanding EW environments.

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Joanne Lovrinic