Pike's military experience helps give support to STTC's medical simulation research

August 24, 2012

Story Highlights

  • ARL employee holds two hats - one in his civilian life and the other as a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves.
  • Pike works on medical simulation research.
  • Pike explores how modeling and simulation can augment and maybe replace shock trials that are currently performed on the lead ship of each ship class.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory employs people with a wide variety of backgrounds and several of these employees have either spent time in the military or are currently members of the Reserves or National Guard.

Bill Pike, who is a science and technology manager at the Human Research and Engineering Directorate, Simulation and Training Technology Center in Orlando, Fla., currently holds two hats – one in his civilian life and the other as a commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves.

At the STTC, Pike works on medical simulation research. Like the rest of his team, he works on a variety of research efforts ranging from game-based simulation to mixed reality military ambulance trainers.

"My primary research area has involved the use of malodors to augment medical training exercises," said Pike. "How do humans adapt to malodors and can pre-exposure to the biological odors combat medics will face help alleviate performance issues?"

Pike said that combat medics and other first responders face a variety of 'very nasty odors' when treating injured personnel. He said that malodors have been shown to negatively impact various components of human performance.

"If olfactory adaptation can help reduce the negative impact, first responders can improve time to treat injured patients in the 'platinum 10 minutes' – the time immediately following injury," said Pike.

Pike said the STTC had an Army Training Objective (ATO) on severe trauma simulations, with the goal of simulating the sight, smell and feel of traumatic injuries. He said that while the sight was fairly easy to replicate via silicon-based moulage, modeling the smell had escaped them.

"Commercial off-the-shelf simulated odors exist, but no one had really done much work on how to use them effectively," said Pike. "That's what I chose to explore. As I peeled back the onion in my literature review, I discovered a more basic problem. While malodors have been tied to human performance issues and olfactory adaptation has been shown to reduce sensitivity to odors, very little research exists that shows whether adaptation can actually reduce the negative effects of malodor exposure."

STTC personnel have a diverse background. Many of the engineers worked at the Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO-STRI) or with the Naval Air Warfare Center, Training Systems Division, in Orlando, prior to coming to the STTC. Because of this, they understand what has to be done to transition from research to production.

"In the medical simulation realm, we have the ability to naturally be Joint in nature – the human body is the human body – and reacts the same way to gunshots or explosion regardless of the uniform," said Pike. "While a Navy Fleet Marine Force Corpsman and an Army Combat Medic may train slightly differently and use slightly different equipment, those differences are minor enough that a simulator developed for one can easily be modified for the other. In fact, patient simulators can be used for anyone, military or civilian, who has to treat injuries at the scene."

In uniform, Pike currently works on a study for the Program Executive Officer Ships. PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all major surface combatants, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships and special warfare craft.

Pike explores how modeling and simulation can augment and maybe replace shock trials that are currently performed on the lead ship of each ship class. He has been the commanding officer for four Reserve units. Pike also deployed to Camp Eggers, Kabul, Afghanistan, where he managed a $1.6 billion construction project for the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.

When asked about how his military experience has aided him with his current position at ARL, Pike said that while the two jobs may not seem that closely related, being a Reservist has added more credibility to his dealings with active duty military members he works with.

"My Reserve career has allowed me to hone leadership skills. Each opportunity to serve as a unit commanding officer has afforded me a 'leadership laboratory' to practice skills learned both as a Navy officer and in Army civilian leadership classes," said Pike. "In addition, working for a PEO for the Navy has allowed me to keep my acquisition hat while I work for an Army R&D (research and development) command. Ultimately, the R&D we conduct needs to be transitioned. While we work closely with PEO STRI for transition, my Reserve career has given me more 'tools for the toolbox' when it comes to transition to acquisition commands."


Last Update / Reviewed: August 24, 2012