June 10, 2016

Incidents involving roadside and under-road improvised explosive devices remain a serious threat. As the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown, IED blasts often result in horrific injuries, fatalities, and damages to military vehicles.

IEDs also threaten the health and safety of soldiers who investigate the blast sites and perform post-blast data collection. These individuals risk exposure to chemical agents, biological toxins, and potentially radioactive material that the makers of IEDs are using at increasing rates.

Recent graduate Bonnie Kolaya identified this post-blast threat as part of her final project in the Systems Engineering program.

Her solution, called the Remote Investigative System for Blast Site Characterization, or RIS-4BSC, would be a new way for soldiers to examine and measure a blast site remotely, preventing direct exposure to hazardous materials in the air and on surrounding surfaces.

The RIS-4BSC would use an unmanned ground vehicle equipped with chemical, biological, radiation, and explosive detection capabilities. It would send alerts to the operator, document blast damage, take photos, and collect soil samples.

Several kinds of response teams will benefit from the RIS-4BSC, Kolaya says. In addition to the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps, who would be the primary users, she expects interest from the FBI, law enforcement, and environmental agencies.

Kolaya earned her master's degree in systems engineering while working as a physical scientist and test officer in the Survivability and Lethality Directorate of the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center.

The Systems Engineering program at Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals regularly highlights the applied systems design projects and in-depth thesis research of its students. We will continue to make these presentations available so that they can benefit the entire systems engineering community.