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OSU Researchers Develop 'Interactive Encyclopedia' To Help Train Soldiers

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Ramesh Sharda, an OSU professor. Ramesh Sharda, an OSU professor.
U.S. soldiers overseas [File photo] U.S. soldiers overseas [File photo]
The Army's Defense Ammunition Center in McAlester [File photo] The Army's Defense Ammunition Center in McAlester [File photo]

Craig Day, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- With war efforts underway in Iraq and Afghanistan, for all of the military men and women in harm's way, there are others working behind the scenes to improve safety of U.S. military personnel.

That includes researchers at Oklahoma State University.

"We are working toward making a big difference," Ramesh Sharda, an OSU professor, said.

Sharda is the director of the Institute for Research in Information Systems at OSU's School of Business. Three years ago, the Army's Defense Ammunition Center in McAlester partnered with the institute to create an Ammunitions Multimedia Encyclopedia.

"The users of this can see this item as if they are actually looking at the item," Sharda said.

OSU can't show the encyclopedia without Army authorization, but it is highly interactive. It uses 3D images and video to train ammo handlers how to identify, inspect and package hundreds of different kinds of ammunition.

"The richer the media, the better knowledge transfers," Joyce Lucca, an OSU researcher, said.

"We give them a little video that says this is what it is supposed to look like, and this is what they're talking about when there is a fault, there's a defect," Andy Clower, an OSU Research Assistant, said.

In addition to initial training, handlers and soldiers in the field can later refer back to the encyclopedia for refresher training.

"Just go into their inspections better informed, and obviously better informed is safer," Lucca said.

Developers say it's a win-win. Ammunition handlers get training they need, OSU students working on the project benefit from a unique learning experience, and most of all, soldiers ultimately have a better chance of success.

Right now, 300 different kinds of ammo are included, with plans by Oklahoma State to add 100 more in the next year. An iPhone and iPad version of the ammunitions encyclopedia is also under development.

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