Next-Generation of Maintenance Skills Training System
Navy SBIR 2014.2 - Topic N142-124
ONR - Ms. Lore-Anne Ponirakis -
Opens: May 23, 2014 - Closes: June 25, 2014

N142-124 TITLE: Next-Generation of Maintenance Skills Training System


ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMS-339 - Schoolhouse Training Systems

OBJECTIVE: Provide Navy maintenance trainers with initial and refresher training protocols, assessment tools, and a model of skill acquisition and decay that can be used to predict and prevent deterioration of maintenance skills and knowledge.

DESCRIPTION: Maintaining the Navy’s mission critical equipment in a state of optimal readiness requires a well-trained technical staff. This is of critical importance as funding for new equipment/platforms is reduced. Currently, technicians are trained to maintain equipment by following specified sets of step-by-step procedures referred to as proceduralized training. However, the resultant skills acquired by this type of training are often brittle, are susceptible to decay through non-use, and ignore critical cognitive skills required for diagnosis, repair and/or replacement. The goal of this SBIR is to develop empirically-validated, next-generation training protocols informed by the science of learning, as well as tools for assessing training maintenance skills within an immersive virtual environment (VE) that emulates the operational environment. This maintenance training capability will increase the durability and generalizability of both technical and non-technical skills. It will also support development of a model of skill acquisition and decay to predict and prevent skill decay throughout deployment cycles. This new model of skill acquisition could be used to guide the development of initial (e.g., schoolhouse) and refresher training (e.g., aboard ship) modules that could be implemented on a mobile platform (e.g., I-PAD or Smart Phone).

Over the past two decades, the method of choice for training high-volume maintenance skills and related technical knowledge has been to teach step-by-step procedures supported by technical manuals. However, such training produced skills that were not durable, were brittle, and ignored task relevant cognitive skills. Current research on skill decay notes that cognitive skills are essential for durability and generalizability of knowledge required to execute critical maintenance skills.

PHASE I: Define and develop a concept for an immersive game-based training environment that emulates the operational environment and has the capability to provide empirically-validated, next-generation protocols informed by the science of learning and tools for assessing and training maintenance skills within a VE. Phase I deliverables include a design concept that describes the components of the training environment and tools. If awarded, Phase I Option deliverables would include an acquisition and decay model that identifies the rate of acquisition and decay of cognitive (e.g., troubleshooting), perceptual (e.g., haptics), and psychomotor (e.g., replace and repair) maintenance skills.

PHASE II: Develop prototype training system based on the Phase I research effort that is ready for demonstration and validation within a Navy Technical school (e.g., Center for Naval Engineering). The prototype training environment should be delivered at the end of Phase II, ready to be implemented and evaluated in a Navy schoolhouse.

PHASE III: Transition a validated training system to military customers for production and acquisition. Provide military trainers and their interagency partners with a validated model of skill acquisition and decay that generalizes to additional domains (e.g., medical).

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: This research and development effort has U.S. Government-wide and possibly multinational and international application (United Nations, NATO), as well as applicability to private sector training and education markets.

1. Nawrocki, L.H., 1987, Artificial Intelligence Applications to Maintenance Training, In Greg P. Kearsley (Ed.) Artificial Intelligence and Instruction Addision-Wesley Publishing Company Menlo Park, California.

2. Burton, R.R and Brown, J.S., 1981, Diagnosing Bugs in Simple Procedural Skills, In D. Sleeman and J.S. Brown (Eds.) Intelligent tutoring systems, New York: Academic Press.

3. Wang, Day, Kowollik, Schuelke, and Hughes, 2013, Factors Influencing Knowledge and Skill Decay After Training: A Meta-Analysis, In W. Arthur, Jr., E. Day, W. Bennet Jr., and A. M. Portrey (Eds.) Individual and Team Skill Decay: The Science and Implications for Practice, Taylor & Francis Group.

KEYWORDS: Maintenance Training; Immersive Environments; Game-based Training; Skill Decay; Retention; Procedural skills

DoD Notice:  
Between April 23 through May 22 you may talk directly with the Topic Authors (TPOC) to ask technical questions about the topics. Their contact information is listed above. For reasons of competitive fairness, direct communication between proposers and topic authors is
not allowed starting May 23, 2014, when DoD begins accepting proposals for this solicitation.
However, proposers may still submit written questions about solicitation topics through the DoD's SBIR/STTR Interactive Topic Information System (SITIS), in which the questioner and respondent remain anonymous and all questions and answers are posted electronically for general viewing until the solicitation closes. All proposers are advised to monitor SITIS (14.2 Q&A) during the solicitation period for questions and answers, and other significant information, relevant to the SBIR 14.2 topic under which they are proposing.

If you have general questions about DoD SBIR program, please contact the DoD SBIR Help Desk at (866) 724-7457 or webmail link.