News Releases

Mines alumnus creates robot to test clothing with chemical agents for Dept. of Defense
Release Date Wednesday, January 22, 2014

 The IPEMS is fully dressed in an individual protection ensemble. For the first time, the military can conduct high-quality and reproducible tests of protective equipment without using a human subject.

RAPID CITY, S.D. (Jan. 22, 2014) – South Dakota School of Mines & Technology alumnus Jarid Shawd has led a team of engineers to produce a mannequin robot and high-containment chamber to test protective clothing with chemical warfare agents for the U.S. Department of Defense. For the first time, the military can conduct high-quality and reproducible tests of protective equipment without using a human subject.

Shawd is a 2000 mechanical engineering graduate from the School of Mines. He joined Kansas City-based MRIGlobal in 2010 and has worked closely with subcontractor Management Technology Northwest to integrate efforts on mannequin-surface-system design, fabrication and testing.

The program, called the Individual Protection Ensemble Mannequin System (IPEMS), was awarded in November 2008 to MRIGlobal, which assembled a team of experts from across the country.

According to the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, the program is designed to provide data on the effectiveness of the protective equipment when exposed to dangerous chemicals. Mimicking human movements and physical responses, the mannequin allows for safe testing of the Individual Protective Ensembles (IPE) with chemical warfare agents.

Currently, protective gear is tested using human subjects who perform defined activities in an environment with non-toxic chemical simulants that mimic behavior of chemical warfare agents.

When the IPEMS project is fully completed, the military will be able to test a soldier’s IPE on an advanced robotic mannequin with a full range of motion, capable of simulating human movement while exposed to various chemical warfare agents. The tests will occur in a variety of environmental conditions, be fully reproducible and provide a near real-time indication (alarm) of chemical intrusion into the IPE.

The Individual Protection Ensemble Mannequin System now resides at the Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, outside of Salt Lake City, Utah.

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About SDSM&T

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,640 students from 45 states and 37 countries, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The average starting salary for graduates is $62,400 with a 98 percent placement rate. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sdsmt and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sdsmt.

About MRIGlobal

MRIGlobal is an independent, not-for-profit organization that performs contract research for government and industry. Founded in 1944, MRIGlobal has built a reputation for innovation, technical excellence and problem solving. Today, as one of the nation’s leading research institutes, MRIGlobal conducts programs in the areas of national security and defense, life sciences, energy and the environment, agriculture and food safety and engineering and infrastructure. With headquarters in Kansas City, MRIGlobal also has facilities in Rockville and Frederick, Maryland, and Palm Bay, Florida. In addition to operating its own laboratories, MRIGlobal operates laboratories for the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Defense.