A team of National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) X-Force Fellows this summer partnered with the Logistics Directorate (J4) of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to streamline supply delivery for moving and sustaining the Joint Force in contested environments.
NSIN’s X-Force Fellowship is a summer program that provides students and recent graduates a chance to serve their country by solving real-world national security problems in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). By bridging the gap between students and the DoD through X-Force, organizations such as J4 receive talented students to preserve our competitive emerging technology advantage, while fellows gain an invaluable portfolio for the unpredictable global operating environment by training on real national security challenges.
Looking to utilize the technical and entrepreneurial expertise of X-Force Fellows, J4 brought its distribution challenge to Ernesto Jimenez-Hope, Bella Levin, and Amin Ebadyl, the X-Force team assigned to the J4 logistics project. The goal was to highlight an area for possible improvement and let the fellows design a solution based on their own best idea.
The students began working to identify a mix of sealift, airlift, and ground distribution capabilities necessary to move and sustain the Joint Force, while delivering J4 results in data measurements and models for the comparison of logistics distribution requirements and capabilities.
“We were given an overview of the problem and charged with creating a solution…it was largely an open task for us to come up with what we thought was the best answer,” said Ernesto, who is completing a joint program at the University of Chicago that will end with a master’s degree in political science and international relations.
Fully defining the challenge required research and discussions with senior military leaders so that the fellows could understand the factors at play and the desired outcomes for the final system. With only 10 weeks in the X-Force program, the fellows quickly got to work on a visual simulation programmed in Python. Bella and Amin lead the coding for the team.
Bella, who recently finished her freshman year as a computer science major at Washington University in St. Louis, has always been interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Amin recently graduated from Ohio State with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and will be entering the workforce.
Together, they created a display that changes based on user inputs, while managing restrictions on available vessels, safe trade routes, the distance between locations, weather conditions, ship attrition rates, and more.
The fellows presented J4 with a model to see how changes in cargo and ship size, combined with factors such as nautical range and storage capacity, impacted the delivery of supplies. The results will go under consideration for further research and potential expansion.
Working as an X-Force Fellow provided each student with a unique experience to speak with, interact with, and learn from senior military leaders in organizations such as the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Naval Sea Systems Command, the Naval SEA Warfare, and several think tanks and leading policy organizations.
Ernesto, who wants to take his skills abroad and possibly enter conflict journalism or another field, said “this was definitely not filler work. The people we worked with were genuinely interested in our efforts. We could just dive headfirst into our work as part of an extremely positive and collaborative environment.”
NSIN is a program office in the U.S. Department of Defense, nested within the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU). We are set up to collaborate with a wide variety of innovators to include universities, researchers, students, entrepreneurs and start-ups. We create opportunities for collaboration across communities and connect those that might not traditionally work in national security. Together, we help drive national security innovation and develop technologies that directly support the individuals responsible for protecting our country.
For more information or interview requests with Team NSIN, please contact us at email@example.com.