Mizzou Engineer to help U.S. Army assess systems as part of groundbreaking Department of Defense project

March 26, 2024

Jim Noble
Jim Noble

Mizzou Engineering is contributing to a groundbreaking project that aims to help the U.S. Army make more timely and strategic decisions in today’s technology-driven defense landscape.

Jim Noble, chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, is Principal Investigator on a subcontract from the University of Houston as part of its $63.5 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) awarded this fall. Assistant Professors Suchi Rajendran and Sharan Srinvas are co-PIs.

“This is an opportunity for us to directly contribute within the DOD space,” Noble said. “From a commercial side, we’ve worked with Boeing on defense logistics, but this is our first time working directly with the department. It builds on our expertise and capabilities we have in an area that we’ve not been involved with in the past, and I’m excited about that.”

Specifically, the team will work with different Army command centers on analytics capabilities for competition, crisis and combat. For the first project, they are helping a specific U.S. Army command determine how supply chain logistics tools are now being used and if there are opportunities to apply artificial intelligence or machine learning (AI/ML) to improve decision making.

“We’re assessing what kinds of modeling approaches they’re currently using for supply chain logistics and finding opportunities to improve upon those,” Noble said. “Our contribution will be developing a unique software assessment tool they can use to evaluate other software systems, potentially with AI/ML, that might provide better capabilities.”

Following the initial project, the team will work with additional command centers using their developed tool to analyze other systems used to support defense strategy decision making.

“The idea is to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve upon decision making,” he said. “We’ll start that with respect to logistics and supply chains, but we’ll be looking at different decision-making areas at multiple centers over the next four-and-a-half years.”

Craig Glennie, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of engineering defense research initiatives at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering, is leading the DOD contract. The overall research team also includes the University of Massachusetts Amherst and New Mexico State University.

In a press release announcing the award this past fall, Glennie stressed that the goal is not to study actual conflict, but rather how to support the U.S. Army during competition and crisis phases prior to armed conflict.

Read the original announcement from the University of Houston here.