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NSWC Crane MTRC Program supports first SOFWERX industry challenge, looks to expand to diverse technology areas

By Sarah K. Miller, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications | Jan. 5, 2021

CRANE, Ind. –Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division’s (NSWC Crane) Mobile Technology Repair Complex (MTRC) worked with SOFWERX in the fall to find new technical solutions. SOFWERX held an industry challenge to meet SOCOM’s current and future welding needs throughout the world. This is the first time the MTRC Program has worked with SOFWERX to find new technical solutions for United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), and these industry challenges have future technology applications.

Nathen Storey, the Branch Manager of NSWC Crane’s MTRC Program, says the program’s welding capability is one of the most used and better enables the MTRC experts to serve warfighters.

“In the welding field, there are multiple types of welding and a wide variety of materials used,” says Storey. “Currently, different materials may require a different machine to operate. Given the rigorous nature of our work supporting the SOF community, the less equipment needed, the better we could provide rapid solutions; size and fit are some of our biggest challenges when we want to be mobile.”

The MTRC program provides timely and responsive means to repair, modify, and enhance current capabilities of Special Operations Forces (SOF) systems and sub-systems as well as design, engineer, and fabricate new equipment to increase the lethality and survivability of SOF operators worldwide. SOFWERX is a platform that helps solve challenging warfighter problems at scale through collaboration, ideation, events, and rapid prototyping.

The SOFWERX MTRC Portable Welder Combat Evaluation event was a $200K challenge that took place in October. Storey says the collaboration with SOFWERX enabled them to see the latest industry technology.

“We worked with SOFWERX to explore as many solutions as possible, including smaller and more portable welding technology that allows us to continue to work under rough conditions to support SOF missions,” says Storey. “We provided the technical engineering expertise to evaluate private industry tech. Our engagement in the Combat Evaluation Challenge allowed us to see unique and new capabilities, gear, and equipment – which we are then able to implement to provide better capability to the SOF warfighter.”

Storey also says that through challenges like these, small businesses and entrepreneurs gain beneficial insight.

“There is the obvious benefit of the challenge prize money, but the experience of working with us helps them gain better perspective,” says Story. “Smaller companies were able to engage with us where they wouldn’t have that opportunity easily otherwise.”

Storey also says the future applications of working with SOFWERX will benefit NSWC Crane’s support of the SOF community.

“We have thirteen deployed teams around the globe and welding is a key technology we provide,” says Storey. “But we also do a lot of repairs and fabrications from scratch, both on location. Our new fabrications and solutions support a lot of SOF systems, so we use a wide range of technology and skills to support the SOF community. The lessons we learned through our first SOFWERX challenge will allow us to explore future opportunities in a wide variety of technology areas, including 3-D printing.”

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

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