Photo Information

U.S. Marine Cpl. Austin Green, a metal worker with 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, uses pliers to carefully assemble a circuit board during a Marine Maker Course with Building Momentum at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 30, 2018. The circuit board is a key component in the challenge to build a small voltage regulator. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Sorci)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph Sorci

Marine Maker, Innovation Labs

19 Mar 2018 | 1st Marine Logistics Group

Additive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3-D printing, is a process that can reduce the time between when a replacement part is received, to when it is in the hands of Marines on the front line. This topic has been on the forefront of discussion within the Marine Corps, and the Marine Maker Course takes it a step further by introducing it and innovating problem solving concepts to Marines.

Marines participating in the Marine Maker Course learned additive manufacturing, coding, and the complexities of wiring, and further advanced their problem solving skills while attending this week long course.

"During the week, we teach Marines the basics of the equipment they'll be working with and guide them through unique challenges to test what they learned in a short amount of time," said Albert Vega, a training director for the course with Building Momentum. "The course is extremely fast paced and designed to make the Marines uncomfortable while still having achievable goals."

The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory develops advanced warfighting concepts and capabilities. With the help of industry partners, Marines introduced to innovations in scientific research and technologically development in support of combat operations.

"At the end of the day, I'm always amazed at the things the Marines create," Vega explained. "They keep pushing us as instructors to be better, to make even more challenging objectives for them to meet."

Some challenges the Marines faced during the course include designing in a 3-D program, printing a castle and a bridge through additive manufacturing, welding, developing code, building a voltage regulator and the construction of a fighting robot. Taking it a step further, the students are challenged with operational scenarios for which their efforts can be applied to help them understand how these new concepts achieve high quality training, while still challenging them to think outside the box.

"One of ours and the Marines' favorite projects is the robot construction challenge," said Vega. "The robot challenge brings everything we taught them into one culminating event 3-D designing and printing, coding, wiring, all of it. The Marines, during this iteration, absolutely knocked it out of the park."

The Marines taking this course come from a variety of Military Occupational Specialties. Nominees for the course were chosen by their command based on their work ethic and a drive to succeed.

"As a rifleman, the main takeaway of this course is the advanced problem solving skills I gained," explained Cpl. Joel Ross, a rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. "We work with a lot of unique equipment during this course and we found new ways to figure out the answer."

Marines take pride in their ability to adapt to any situation, and this is extenuated by programs within the course that keep the students on the latest and greatest technology.

"No matter what they threw at us, we all used the new programs and tools we learned in the course to figure out the best way to reach our objective," said Ross. "I really enjoyed the course, it was a very interesting change of pace. The skills I gained this week will be with me no matter where I go, whether that be field training or a deployed environment, and I feel more mission ready today than I ever have."

This is one of many major strides toward a more capable Marine Corps. The Marine Maker Course has been held in various locations across the continental United States as well as in deployed environments.

"You can always do better, no matter how good we get, and you have to have the mindset that the enemy is always ahead of you. That is what keeps us going forward, getting stronger, more ready for the next threat that comes to our doorstep," concluded Ross.

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