Made in Mass: Army Gear


To keep soldiers safe, the Army tests its gear at the Natick Solider Systems Center.

“What we’re doing is exposing the mannequin to a four second flash fire type scenario,” said Peggy Auerbach, a textile technologist.

The mannequin is equipped with dozens of sensors that help the experts design uniforms to protect soldiers from a fiery explosion.

Sergeant First Class Brian Scott knows all too well how important the research is.

“I did take shrapnel to the temple,” said Scott.

Scott survived an attack while deployed in Iraq, thanks in large part to his helmet, designed in Natick.

“I’m pretty sure of it that I would not be alive if it were not for that piece of equipment,” said Scott.

To make sure the soldiers and their equipment are a good fit out in the field, they get tested in Natick.

“Basically, we can simulate almost any type of environmental condition on the Earth,” said Joshua Bulotsk, an electrical engineer.

In a climate chamber, equipped with a giant treadmill, temperatures can reach 165 degrees down to minus 70 degrees.

Soldiers work up quite the appetite after a long patrol. Their meals are cooked up on base.

“Depending on the mission, soldiers are going to have to eat,” said Bulotsk.

This is called a “meal, ready to eat” or an MRE.

“It tastes good and it’s going to sustain a soldier throughout combat operations,” said Bulotsk.

The meals come in sealed bags and soldiers can choose from more than 20 menu items. Pilots flying extended missions eat their meals through a straw.

From every day needs to life threatening burns, an army of experts are keeping soldiers safe.

“It’s very rewarding because we know what we’re doing makes a difference and it’s protecting the soldiers out in the field,” said Auerbach.

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