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Home : News
NEWS | Dec. 23, 2021

West Virginia military, Army to work on tech challenges

By Edwin Wriston, West Virginia National Guard

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Military Authority will participate in the U.S. Army’s Catalyst-Pathfinder Program to provide opportunities for the West Virginia National Guard to engage academic institutions and industry partners to solve military technological challenges.

As part of a congressional initiative, the goal of the Catalyst-Pathfinder program is to harness the creativity and technical skills of academic institutions and help the Army create better solutions to real problems.

“Participating in the Pathfinder Program for the West Virginia Military Authority is an incredible opportunity,” said Phillip Cantrell, director of the West Virginia Military Authority. “The West Virginia Military Authority engages with these types of partnerships for the purposes of executing its national security and homeland security mission. Through the Pathfinder program, we will be able to create opportunities for our West Virginia National Guardsmen to identify real problems and needs they are seeing in the field and engage directly in cutting-edge research to help solve those problems/needs.”

The WVMA is the first non-active-duty organization to be involved in this Soldier-focused program, which was launched last year.

“I have always said West Virginia is one of the most patriotic states in the nation, and I am especially proud that the West Virginia Military Authority and National Guard will be at the forefront of this program,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. “Pathfinder will lead in forming invaluable relationships between service members and researchers to better solve the Army’s technical challenges.” 

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory manages the Catalyst-Pathfinder program with the DEVCOM Armaments Center.

The Pathfinder program is executed through a cooperative agreement with the West Virginia-based nonprofit Civil-Military Innovation Institute (CMI2), which focuses on bringing Soldier-inspired innovations to the battlefield. 

“Soldier-inspired innovation is critical to our national security as our warfighters often know best what they need in the field,” said Aly G. Gregg, vice president at CMI2. “Having our partners at the National Guard lead this effort for non-active-duty organizations throughout the country is a tremendous opportunity for West Virginia.”

Soldiers to work with researchers to help curate the problem they see in the field, develop operator-focused solutions and field-test those solutions against real-world battlefield scenarios. 

“The Pathfinder program creates collaborative engagements toward problem-solving and technical solutions between leading academic researchers, government subject matter experts, and Soldiers from our active and reserve Army divisions,” said Arwen DeCostanza, Catalyst Pathfinder program manager, DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory. “This agreement with the West Virginia Military Authority will help the development of a blueprint as to how we will build and scale this program for broad impact.”