A Princeton resident is part of one of two West Point teams that earned first and second place titles at the 2021 Warfighter Innovation in Science and Engineering Challenge during a live virtual event hosted by the Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center on April 27.
Team Superstrand, a West Point multidisciplinary cadet team, won the competition by defeating 11 teams from four other U.S. Service Academies. They brought home the top spot with their state-of-the-art design of a biosensing, conductive textile material for military uniforms using synthesized carbon nanotubes and cellulose nanofiber composites, according to information provided by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Cadets Felita Zhang, Edward Tang, Paul Trackey, Danielle Lynch, Hunter Beauchamp, Jeff Tantow and Princeton native Alexa Zammit were advised by Col. John Burpo and Dr. Enoch Nagelli from the Department of Chemistry and Life Science, according to the statement.
“One of the most challenging things about conducting nanomaterials research is that there are many different variables that can impact how our products turn out and not all of them can be accounted for,” Zammit said in the statement.
“I love working with my teammates in the lab and enjoy mentoring the plebes who join our projects. One of the best feelings is the atmosphere in the lab when we all are able achieve a product that is what we have been trying to create; everyone gets extremely excited and feels fulfilled.
“From my experience conducting research in the Multifunctional Materials Lab, I have learned that often times the results that you get are not the ones you were hoping for. But there can be something taken away or a different application put to those unexpected results,” she said.
Zammit graduated from Princeton High School in 2018.
She is part of the West Point Flying Team, West Point Chapter of American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Chinese Language and Culture Association, Sailing Team and Cadet Media Group.
She has received the Superintendent’s Achievement Award and Distinguished Cadet Award
Zammit is studying chemical engineering, and hopes to be an Army aviator, according to the statement.
Additionally, Team Defenders, another West Point multidisciplinary cadet team, tied for second place in the WISE Challenge. Their project designed and tested an innovative armor structure system to protect military vehicles against blasts while optimizing weight.
Cadets Jarrett Justice, Courtney Loomis, Tyler Kim, and Jesus Carrillo were advised by Dr. Kevin McMullen from the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering.
“West Point is extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of all teams who competed in the WISE Challenge this year,” U.S. Military Academy Dean of the Academic Board Brig. Gen. Cindy Jebb said in the statement. “This most recent announcement not only recognizes cadets’ excellence in research to improve Army modernization and warfighter innovation for our Army and nation, but it is also a testament to the support and commitment of our faculty.”
Cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy presented their innovative Science and Engineering solutions to service-specific or joint-mission challenges. They were judged for innovation, technical approach and analysis, operational impact to the war fighter, and how well the idea was communicated to the audience.
The WISE Challenge provides a channel for service academies to network and make connections between a multitude of stakeholders across the Department of Defense. The competition is sponsored by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center and approved by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology.
For more information about the WISE Challenge, visit WISE | Warfighter Innovation in Science & Engineering (army.mil)