Bryan: Texas A&M University Regents Fund Military Combat Development Complex
by Adolfo Pesquera
Bryan-College Station (Brazos County) — The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Thursday authorized construction of a $130 million Combat Development Complex at the RELLIS Campus.
The complex is not expected to be completed until 2021, but Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering M. Katherine Banks said the hiring of additional engineers will begin immediately.
This main component of the Combat Development Complex is located in VBX as Project ID 2019-2C6F under the title Innovative Technologies Development Complex RELLIS Campus. Construction on this project is scheduled to start in November 2019, with substantial completion of the building and critical infrastructure scheduled for June 2021, and substantial completion of RELLIS Parkway and landscaping scheduled for August 2021. The total project budget is $80,000,000.
The complex will eventually be used by the Army Futures Command (AFC) to develop, test and evaluate next-generation technologies from the private sector and universities nationwide, according to a statement from AFC Gen. John ‘Mike’ Murray.
The Texas A&M System will build a $50 million facility with laboratories, accelerator space and offices for the AFC. The regents agreed to invest another $30 million for the supporting infrastructure.
The complex will also include a unique, kilometer-long tunnel that will make A&M Engineering “the hypersonics capital of the country,” Banks said.
The $130 million was completed with help from the Texas Legislature, which appropriated $50 million to establish an innovative proving ground where the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) can implement outdoor testing at RELLIS for designing, analyzing and validating new technologies in challenging environments.
Army Futures Command is based in Austin and is drawing on research from various U.S. universities and the private sector to modernize the Army. The RELLIS Combat Development Complex will play a key role since it will be the central hub where the latest, most innovative ideas get tested–often by Fort Hood-based soldiers or members of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets.
The end-goal of Army Futures Command and the Combat Development Complex is to shorten the time it takes to get emerging technologies from the lab to the field and maximize technology capabilities through soldier feedback.
Aside from close proximity to AFC’s Austin headquarters and Fort Hood, the complex will have the advantage of being near A&M University’s world-class College of Engineering and Disaster City; the world’s largest search and rescue training facility can double as a training site for urban warfare.
The Innovative Technologies Development Complex (ITDC) Project was presented in the Regents’ agenda book as a proposal from TEES–with no mention of the military’s role–as Project No. 28-3298.
The ITDC Building will be located west of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) building and between State Highway 21 West and the road field used for pavement research.
The RELLIS Campus area targeted for the Combat Development Complex. The future ITDC Building will be located in the highlighted lower left area. Map: TAMU System.
The Board of Regents Briefing Notes:
Texas A&M Engineering Experiement Station (TEES) proposes to construct a new Innovative Technologies Development Complex (ITDC) on the RELLIS Campus.
The ITDC will include research facilities, a fully instrumented Innovation Proving Ground (IPG) and required housing through a public-private partnership.
The first proposed facility will provide for modern offices and research labs that support interdisciplinary engineering research teams in a collaborative research environment. In addition, the facility will also provide a TEES Range Control and Operations Center.
The A&M System will develop an Innovative Technology research and development program with iterative design, prototype development, and testing and evaluation that allows for fundamental research to be linked with user engagement to produce cutting-edge networks, vehicles, and communication systems.
This unique complex will support the development of a state-of-the-art innovation hub for technology acceleration and provide platforms for agile technology evaluation cycles in collaboration with other ITDC components.
Furthermore, a Technology Innovation and Modernization Catalyst (TIMC) will accelerate commercialization of these technologies by providing opportunities for the business community to invest in new technology development as it moves toward procurement.
This project will construct a state-of-the-art 79,500 square-foot building on the northwest area of RELLIS campus. The building will be an anchor to the much broader footprint, which collectively will converge and accelerate specific modernization priorities of TEES clients.
This facility will be a multifaceted-use facility and will include the following supporting functions:
Offices, conference, and collaboration spaces for university, industry, and other subject matter experts to assess defined needs and create novel concepts.
Applied research and development laboratories for designing technologically superior elements required to meet established concepts for each need.
Prototyping andintegration spaces for transitioning concepts into a high-performing capability by extensive prototyping.
Innovation collaboration locations for testing and evaluating advanced-concept prototypes and technology demonstrations.
Secure meeting spaces, sensitive equipment and data storage for reviewing field experimentation and refining the prototypes and/or new concepts.
The ITDC building will be the outlet for connectivity with the four application platforms and will include specialized laboratories enabling the optimal functionality of these platforms.
For example, the facility will contain a laser diagnostics lab, a telemetry and sensors instrumentation lab for autonomous vehicles, a control center for tactical networks, a GPS-denied navigation lab, a cyber security lab, an augmented and virtual reality lab, and a secure data storage and curation center.
In addition to the ITDC building, this project includes construction of a $30,000,000 infrastructure and roadway extension along RELLIS Parkway. Also included are new utilities crossing the test beds/runways.
Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.