CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
U.S. Marines and Sailors with 2nd Marine Logistics Group, in concert with II Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Installations East, hosted a ceremony to celebrate the completion and grand opening of the new II MEF Innovation Campus, which is now open to all Marines and Sailors across the base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on Friday, April 1.
The II MEF Innovation Campus, staffed and operated by Marines and Sailors from around 2nd MLG, is a 3,000 square foot collaboration space that offers service members and units capabilities to propose solutions, leverage experimentation, pool resources, and implement applications to increase warfighting readiness across the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
While the campus is hosted by 2nd MLG, its operational scope extends far beyond that of tactical-level logistics and combat service support.
“Our innovation challenges and course offerings are meant to empower our Marines, Sailors, and civilians to find new and adaptive solutions to provide II MEF a competitive advantage in the future fight.” Col. Karin Fitzgerald, 2nd MLG assistant chief of staff for logistics
“The Innovation Campus is a place where rank does not matter – the ideas do,” said Capt. Garrett M. Brown, director of the II MEF Innovation Campus and innovation officer with 2nd MLG. “By creating a space where brilliant minds from across the Marine Corps can collaborate, you start to reap the benefits that just do not happen when everyone stays in their lane.”
The II MEF Innovation Campus primarily offers two distinctive facilities with state-of-the-art equipment such as additive manufacturing and engineering tools available for service members to use at all hours of the day, seven days a week – made possible by the Marines and Sailors of the innovation staff.
The centerpiece is the “The Lab,” a trailer that hosts up to 10 workstations that include top-notch desktop gaming PC’s repurposed for use with a professional suite of computer-aided design and drawing software to yield solutions for on-the-ground problems around the Fleet Marine Force.
A suite of rapid prototyping capabilities, to include milling machines and electronic manufacturing gear, are also inside “The Lab” for all Marines and Sailors to use and create ready-made, low-cost items to benefit their units.
“Our Marines and Sailors see the potential with existing and emerging capabilities and want to do things differently and address problems they see every day in their sections and shops,” said Col. Karin Fitzgerald, assistant chief of staff for logistics with 2nd MLG. “Our innovation challenges and course offerings are meant to empower our Marines, Sailors, and civilians to find new and adaptive solutions to provide II MEF a competitive advantage in the future fight.”
“The Lab” has already helped facilitate several Fleet-ready, 3D-printed products that have been implemented throughout II MEF, to include an external gear rack for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and handset covers for Harris tactical radios.
Photo by Cpl. Christian Garcia
The second capability is the collaboration trailer, a cooperative space for up to 30 people full of white boards, tables and meeting areas, and other amenities to make groups from a regimental battle staff to a rifle squad feel right at home for planning, brainstorming, teambuilding, and other omnidirectional idea sharing opportunities.
“Good ideas need a home. The capabilities added to the campus create a location that naturally encourages cooperation and collaboration while providing the tools and know-how to prototype and test those new ideas,” said Brown.
Every quarter, the Innovation Campus hosts the Commanding General’s Innovation Challenge, which offers a problem set for service members to propose solutions for operational implementation.
Previous winners of the Innovation Challenge have cultivated proven results throughout II MEF, to include an all-in-one engine stand for intermediate-level vehicle maintenance; a QUADCON supply lot layout; and a proposal for hazardous material treatment aboard the installation.
The campus staff and equipment are also available to assist personnel in developing ideas to submit for the quarterly challenge.
As the Innovation Campus officially opens its doors to all, its team is confident Marines and Sailors will not only take full advantage of the wide variety of offered services but also promote forward thinking modernization efforts at every level of command.
“It is common to think that you have to be some radical, Steve Jobs-esque thinker to practice real innovation,” said Brown. “But what people do not realize is that those people exist in every organization, and it’s possible to tap into that native brainpower if you resource properly and encourage a culture that allows people to take risks.”