Capability Development

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Protection Engineering Consultants (PEC) develops new capabilities for product developers, manufacturers, design firms, and government agencies. We transform the results of our applied research efforts into practical and actionable tools and techniques. PEC creates design guidance and analysis tools that enable vendors to demonstrate the functionality and value of their products.

We have worked with many government agencies and commercial firms to expand their capabilities in defeating and mitigating man-made and natural hazards. To develop these capabilities, we employ numerical modeling methods, create first-principles analytical models, develop material models, perform, and oversee experimental programs, and generate novel data analytics and instrumentation approaches.



Functional Capabilities

PEC supports commercial manufacturers and product developers, by creating functional capabilities, often with tailored design tools. The recurring theme is “protection”, but we also develop capabilities to assess and improve the performance of explosive weapons. Protective structures must not only resist the specified man-made threat but also meet conventional design requirements, such as wind and seismic loading. For man-made threats, PEC develops design guidance using experimental data and numerical simulation results. The design guidance may be closed form equations, graphs and charts, or spread-sheet calculators.


For conventional design requirements, the appropriate building code is reviewed and carefully considered relative to the design requirements to defeat the man-made threats. These two design approaches (for man-made and conventional threats) are reconciled, combined, and distilled into a single document and associated software tool.

Example case studies can be accessed found at the bottom of this page. These include design guidance for metallic curtain systems, applied to the interior and exterior of buildings, to protect from blast and extreme weather events.  For a long-term client, PEC has developed, built, tested, and certified an aircraft arrestor system for runway over-runs, using novel energy absorbing materials. We developed analysis and design tools that allow the client to assess the over-run requirements at a particular airport based on type and frequency of landing airplanes and then to design an engineered material arrestor system (EMAS) appropriate for those specific requirements. Finally, we have worked with one of the world’s largest manufacturers of protective films and coatings, performing explosive tests and numerical simulations as part of the development of design tools.

Predictive Capabilities

Our government and commercial clients often require predictive capabilities that allow a quick assessment for targeting and response purposes. While these types of tools can be used for design, they are more intended to assess consequences.

PEC has developed our own machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI) technique, called EMBER, that employs genetic programming algorithms to reduce experimental and numerical data to create fast running models (FRMs). This technique can be used for many physical problems. In our most recent application, we developed FRMs to predict the response of structural components subjected to explosive weapons effects.

PEC has developed simple numerical analysis methods, such as single-degree-of-freedom (SDOF) numerical integration, to create several software tools that predict the time history of structural component responses to dynamic loads. With SDOF approaches, the details of the structural component are explicitly considered– including geometry, linear and nonlinear material behavior and different boundary conditions. The load varies with time and short and long-duration loadings can be modeled. These methods are fast and powerful.

Some structural components do not lend themselves to SDOF approaches. For example, PEC has developed predictive tools for curtain wall response to blast, by adding a specialized wrapper around the general-purpose finite element code, LS-DYNA.  The details of the glass, mullions, rails, support structure, and boundaries are explicitly modeled, as defined by the user. Nonlinear material and geometry are easily implemented. The level of detail in the output is quite extensive and can be used to understand failure and to consider design changes.

Mitigative Capabilities

Mitigation of man-made and natural threats may be accomplished with carefully considered and deliberately-developed operational procedures. We have developed these procedures based on our extensive experience with force protection and physical security design and construction.

PEC employs our knowledge of the constantly evolving threats and counter-measures to develop mitigative methods. This knowledge and experience has been used to author and support Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) for the Department of Defense. This includes UFCs for design of buildings to resist progressive collapse, layout and construction of deployed operational based (DOBs), and creation of safe havens within structures. Our approach in the progressive collapse UFC has been adopted, with some modification, by the General Services Administration (GSA), Veterans Affairs (VA), and American Society of Engineers (ASCE).

By understanding the physical nature of explosive threats in complicated environments, PEC has developed mitigative capabilities for law enforcement and military special operations during explosive breaching. We employed state-of-the-art numerical modeling tools to map the explosive overpressure environment that is generated by a breaching charge. With this data, “safe areas” were defined for different scenarios and operational guidance was developed for dissemination to the first responder and law enforcement community.


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