USNA Capstone Team Develops Mobile Railgun System::…

POSTED ON: Friday, May 20, 2022 1:20 PM by MC1 Jordyn Diomede

Seven midshipmen from the US Naval Academy have spent the past two semesters developing a mobile railgun system as part of their main project. The Capstone Project is a one-year design project and ultimately the culmination of each aspirant’s academic experience.

Inspired by the US Navy’s railgun project, the system uses electromagnetic forces without the need for conventional gunpowder. The railgun fires a projectile at Mach 1, approximately 770 mph, and is programmed to fire 30 rounds in an hour with auto-reload capability.

Midshipmen 1st Class (Senior) Carlos Perez, Damien Stonhill, Anna Sewall, Dgreedy Majd-Faridi, Dalton Harrelson, Bennett Moudy and Lauren de Leon, along with their senior advisers, Captain(N) John Stevens and Cmdr. Chris Martino, both from the electrical and computer engineering department, collectively spent more than 100 hours developing the system.

“We put so much time, sweat and tears into this project,” Perez said. “Many times we believed we could never accomplish what we originally planned to do, but we wanted to make sure that all the hard work we had already put in wouldn’t go to waste.”

This is the fourth year of development of the project. Last year’s USNA Railgun team successfully assembled the railgun and fired it in a lab, while this year’s team went further. Together, they were able to condense the complex circuit, find an alternate power source, and mount it on a Polaris 4×4 vehicle.

For Perez, it was more than just a capstone project.

“I’ve always been fascinated by railgun physics since high school,” he said. “It was one of the many reasons I wanted to study physics and fought to be part of this team supervised by the Department of Electrical Engineering here at the Naval Academy.”

Even with highly motivated students and dedicated faculty working on this small-scale, high-pulse high-energy weapon system, its success would not be possible without the continued support of Office of Naval Research resources and engineering support. from Naval Surface Warfare Centers in Dahlgren, Virginia and Philadelphia.

“This team did an outstanding job on their year-long, multidisciplinary design project,” Stevens said. “I’ve been coaching midshipman synthesis project teams for nine years, and this one is the most challenging in terms of scope, risk management, and operational testing. To put it in DOD acquisition terminology, this team transported its proof-of-concept mobile tactical railgun (TRL-3) to a system prototype demonstration in a relevant operational environment (TRL-6) – an excellent testament to the value of partnerships between university departments, resource sponsors, war centers and aspirants.

At the start of the project in the fall of 2021, the team set out to design, build and fire a prototype railgun system for use as a tactical crewed weapon that is safe in a operational environment. At the end of their last year at the Naval Academy, these midshipmen achieve this objective. However, their achievements go beyond their main internal focus, as the team recently won the “Hagee Award” from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The Hagee Award is named in honor of General Michael Hagee, a USNA graduate, Class of 1968, former instructor in the Naval Academy’s Electrical Engineering Department, and former Commandant of the Marine Corps. It is awarded to the midshipman or midshipman team whose cornerstone design project best addresses a significant threat to deployed Marines.

“Overall, this project has developed each of us to be better future naval officers by teaching us not only the fundamentals of leadership and peer responsibility, but also the stamina and strength to work long hours. hard manual labor in order to achieve the next goal and overall mission,” Perez said.I learned a lot from this railgun project, and I’m forever grateful to have had the opportunity to participate and work with such amazing people.

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Category: General interest, People, Research, Aspirant, Academics