Thursday, April 3, 2008

Little Trip (Maybe)

It seems that the Air Force has been funding structural health monitoring (SHM) projects for quite a few years now and, in general, are pretty much happy with the faculty and universities that they currently employ. The word for the people who have been doing this work is, I believe, "entrenched." The Navy on the other hand, is relatively new to SHM and doesn't have the set preferences for certain groups, thus creating potential openings for younger faculty to move into (that's not to say that the people with Air Force munnies aren't jockeying here too).

Anyway, the upshot of this situation is that my humble research group is involved in a modest project to demonstrate the efficacy of wireless sensing on-board a naval vessel. Can microwave transmitters reliably shuttle data in the marine environment with machinery, bulkheads, seamen, and what-have-you? I think so, which is good because it's my job to demonstrate it convincingly enough that ONR will choose to bestow upon our group more precious fundin... that is, more opportunities for research, growth, and the advancement of human potential. I'm expecting good results.

The vessel that they are interested in monitoring is the experimental Sea Fighter, an all aluminum, twin-hulled behemoth designed to do 40 knots in relatively poor seas (Sea State 5 or 6) and nearly 60 knots in better seas. There's a crap-load of unclassified info about the thing out on the web:

The information in these sites lists the crew as being composed of Navy and Coast Guard personnel, but at this time, I believe that ordinary operation of the vessel is done with a Merchant Marine crew.

Anyway, in case the wireless monitoring system goes awry, I might spend a few days on the boat looking for good data (good data = rough weather). I do love boats and have never been motion sick in my life. Here's hoping my streak continues. Nothing about what I'm working on is classified. I'll be able to comment on and publish anything I do or learn. But I do feel a little odd posting online when and where a military vessel is supposed to be, so I won't. But, since smashing my body to bits on an aluminum bulkhead does sound like the S.W.'s idea of a good time, wish me luck.

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