The University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Natick Soldier Systems Center announced last week that they will soon begin a partnership pairing groups of college students, researchers, and faculty with the Army base to develop equipment and resources for the US armed forces.
US Representative Niki Tsongas and Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray attended an event last Thursday announcing the new partnership at the Lowell campus.
Tsongas said she has worked to secure federal funds for the development of lightweight and gender-
specific body armor for soldiers, which the Natick Army Labs, as the base is informally called, have produced and improved upon.
“This partnership is another example of Massachusetts’ rise as one of the nation’s premier technology innovation centers and will help us take the next step in developing the next generation of soldier resources, such as lightweight and gender-specific body armor,” Tsongas said in a prepared statement.
She also said that because of her efforts, the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act tripled the funding for body armor research and directs, for the first time, that body armor be created specifically for women.
“Bringing together the pioneering defense innovations from Natick Soldier Systems Center with the cutting-edge research and development capabilities at [UMass Lowell] will help ensure America’s servicemen and women have equipment that is not only strong and safe, but maximizes their efficiency and mobility in the field,” Tsongas said.
According to representatives from the Natick Army Labs, the base recruits workers for its 1,800-employee base from many Massachusetts colleges and collaborates with nearby schools, such as Framingham State University.
The base researches and develops products for soldiers, including fire-
resistant uniforms, tasty yet compact meals on the go, and solar-powered tents. Researchers at the base have helped create products like bulletproof vests, GPS systems, and Tang.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh praised the center last March after a first-time visit, describing the operation as enduring and valuable.