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UMass Lowell to partner with Natick Soldier Systems Center

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  February 6, 2013 04:40 PM

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The University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Natick Soldier Systems Center will announce tomorrow that they will soon begin a partnership pairing college students, researchers and faculty with the army base to develop equipment and resources for the US armed forces.

US Representative Niki Tsongas and Lt. Governor Tim Murray will attend an event Thursday announcing the new partnership at the Lowell campus at 10 a.m.

Tsongas said in a statement that she has worked to secure federal funds to support the lightweight and gender-specific body armor for soldiers, which the Natick Army Labs have produced and improved upon.

"This partnership is another example of Massachusetts’ rise as one of the nation’s premier technology innovation centers, and will help us take the next step in developing the next generation of soldier resources, such as lightweight and gender-specific body armor," Tsongas said.

She also said because of her efforts, the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act tripled the funding for body armor research and also designates, for the first time, that body armor be created specifically for women.

"Bringing together the pioneering defense innovations from Natick Soldier Systems Center with the cutting-edge research and development capabilities at UML, will help ensure America’s servicemen and women have equipment that is not only strong and safe, but maximizes their efficiency and mobility in the field," Tsongas said.

According to representatives from the Natick Army Labs, the army base recruits workers for its 1,800 employee base from many Massachusetts colleges, and also partners with nearby schools like Framingham State University.

The army base researches and develops products for soldiers, including fire-resistant uniforms, tasteful yet compact meals on the go, and solar-powered tents. Researchers at the base have helped create popular products like bulletproof vests, GPS systems, and Tang.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh praised the center last March after a first-time visit, describing the operation as enduring and valuable.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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