New South Dakota Mines class benefits Ellsworth Air Force base

The Department of Defense class has students tackling three projects, two of which directly benefit Ellsworth Air Force base.
Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 4:35 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - It’s not often that college students get to help the Department of Defense. But, a new class at SD Mines is letting them do just that.

For the past three years, the Department of Defense has offered classes at various universities. The classes are designed to have students solve real-world problems. This semester the class, Innovating for National Security, is being offered at South Dakota Mines.

Students enrolled will tackle three projects, two of which directly benefit Ellsworth Air Force base.

“If you talk to any of the faculty out there, actually having a problem that instead of being one that they’re having to develop to give a good course material if you can actually bring something in that the students can actually feel and see and then interact with the people that are experiencing the problem. It just really enriches the overall course,” said Jason Combs, the on-campus university program director for the Department of Defense’s National Security Innovation Network.

One of the projects looks at the lifespan of concrete. Right now, the concrete where B-1s get parked needs to be replaced every three years, whereas other concrete areas have a 20-year life expectancy. Through the course, students will give base leadership new perspectives and potential solutions.

“It gives us a pool of brilliant young minds to help us solve our problems,” said Lorie Vega, Deputy of the 28 Missin Support Group at Ellsworth. “So we bring a problem to the table, the team works on solutions. And the hope is that they’ll come up with something that will solve our problem and hopefully be expandable to the civilian community and the rest of the department of defense.”

Vega said they hope the partnership continues, and students can help with future projects.

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