Two UC San Diego Graduate Students Joining Military X-Force Project

Written by Nicholas Vetrisek

Two UCSD students have recently been chosen to join the military’s new X-Force program. The students will join forces with military data scientists at Commander, Naval Air Forces, at North Island Naval Air Station to become part of the X-Force and CNAF’s first-ever collaboration. 

The X-Force is an interservice program between all four branches of the military designed to solve real-world problems that units encounter using data analysis. An example of this sort of problem-solving is the CNAF’s Force Readiness Analytics Group (FRAG), which uses data to determine how to maximize aircraft efficiency and reduce the time that aircraft is unavailable for missions.

According to Senior Chief Machinist’s Mate Aaron Thiss, a member of the FRAG Team, “Our maintainers were already doing all the maintenance they could, but with so much demand on them, it was hard to figure out which aircraft to prioritize.”

“That’s where we came in. We started analyzing data we already had to streamline the maintenance process, which will have major positive effects down the line on readiness, maintainer experience, pilot experience and more,” Thiss said.

Through the X-Force program, the military can also increase efficiency in areas unrelated to aircraft. “We have to man, train and equip the fleet, it’s important that we really understand the problems in those areas and then figure out how to provide those solutions. So by analyzing this data and becoming more proficient at it, then we can spur other areas and other organizations through the fleet to do the same,” Thiss later explained.

Jordan Coursey, one of the students selected from UCSD, said, “Personally, I have learned so much from this program, working in such a large organization, working with several different clients—those are all things that have been very beneficial to me.”

AJ Langley, the other student selected for the program, said about working for the military, “I think servicing the U.S. armed forces really benefits the world in a lot of ways, so I’m really excited to be able to do that.” He went on to say, “I hope the program keeps going and I hope that as a result of this and the FRAG’s efforts that the military is able to embrace predictive analytics and machine learning even more.”  

This push by the military to use data analysis to increase efficiency will strengthen the armed forces—and thanks to these two students, it will certainly reflect well on UCSD and the San Diego community as a whole.


Photo by IBM Research via Flickr