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Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Technologies Serve the Nation and Armed Forces

In an era of unprecedented technical transformation, ERDC leads the way for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Army, and DoD.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [USACE] provides solutions for our nation’s toughest challenges. To do this, the Corps relies heavily on technologies from its research organization, the Engineer Research and Development Center [ERDC],” Dr. Jeffery Holland, USACE director of R&D and ERDC, said.

“ERDC technologies save Soldiers’ lives, strengthen our nation’s security, energize the economy, reduce risks from disasters, and protect the environment. ERDC technologies touch almost all Americans in some way or fashion, whether it is saving threatened or endangered wildlife, saving shipping costs on improved navigation projects, or protecting our citizens from terrorist attack.”

In 1999, USACE consolidated all its separate R&D laboratories into one mighty research entity, ERDC. It was the beginning of a new research enterprise that would become one of the Army’s most renowned. ERDC provides advanced technologies, materials, and expertise to the nation and armed forces through its seven component laboratories:

  • Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, Vicksburg, Miss.
  • Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, Hanover, N.H.
  • Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, Champaign, Ill.
  • Environmental Laboratory, Vicksburg, Miss.
  • Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, Vicksburg, Miss.
  • Information Technology Laboratory, Vicksburg, Miss.
  • Topographic Engineering Center, Alexandria, Va.

Today, ERDC has an annual R&D program exceeding $2 billion. It also has more than $1.2 billion in R&D facilities. Add ERDC’s most important component, its team members and their unmatched wealth of expertise, and you have a national asset. Among its 2,500 employees, more than 1,000 are engineers and scientists (71 percent with doctorate or master’s degrees). It is easy to understand why ERDC is a frequent winner of the Army Research Laboratory of the Year Award. Its work, conducted on all seven continents and in the Arctic, is diverse, investigating not only solutions for American warfighters, but also improvements to the lives and lifestyles of people everywhere in the world and the economic might of the nation.

 

Force Protection

An MPS OHC configuration is subjected to an explosive test to validate its protective performance. ERDC photo

An MPS OHC configuration is subjected to an explosive test to validate its protective performance. ERDC photo

Since 2005, ERDC has been developing and refining the Modular Protective System (MPS), a strong, lightweight, and portable system that provides warfighters protection from insurgent weapons and terrorist attacks.

The main distinction between the MPS and other protective systems widely used is portability: While other methods of creating protective walls, such as soil berms, revetments, or Hesco baskets, are effective, they require large logistical support that includes heavy equipment.

The MPS, on the other hand, consists of an expandable inner frame structure and supporting inner and outer walls of lightweight protective panels 10 times stronger than concrete. All MPS components are lightweight and man-portable; MPS kits can be transported by helicopter. Another significant advantage of the system is its modularity; the 10-foot segments, each of which takes about 15 minutes to assemble, can be arranged in countless configurations.

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Craig Collins is a veteran freelance writer and a regular Faircount Media Group contributor who...