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Anthrotech to measure Army

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For getting precise measurements of the human body, no anthropologists in the country are more highly specialized than those at Anthrotech. That is likely the reason the U.S. Army chose the Yellow Springs outfit last month to complete the task of obtaining a statistical sample of the physical proportions of its soldiers. The job isn’t new for Anthrotech, but it is the biggest contract with the largest sampling that the business has seen in its 60-year history.

While growth isn’t Anthrotech’s focus, according to its owner and president Bruce Bradtmiller, the business will expand temporarily when it hires the 20 to 25 employees needed to complete the measurements of over 15,000 soldiers over a three-year period. The $6.1 million contract was awarded Sept. 18 through the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts, whose mission it is to maximize the maneuverability and survivability of its soldiers.

Anthrotech’s work will help the army design equipment, gear, uniforms and work spaces that best fit the range of men and women who will use them, according to the company’s longtime business manager, Belva Hodge. Gathering data on head circumference, hand length and width, etc., helps the Army design, for example, helmets, respirators, ballistic protectors (bullet-proof vests) or the cockpit of a tank that will best accommodate the largest and the smallest person who might use that equipment, she said.

The team expects to spend six months hiring and training new employees at an area location, and in May they will head out on the road with measurement tools and 3-D head and body scanners to spend a month at each of 14 U.S. Marine and Army bases across the country. The group will take 90 measurements of each body for 3,600 U.S. Marines and 12,000 Army soldiers, including personnel from the Reserves and National Guard.

Anthrotech is one of the few companies in the country that specializes solely on anthropometry, which is one reason such a small boutique won the large contract, Bradtmiller said. The project is an update of the database Anthrotech gathered of 9,000 active duty Army soldiers in 1987.

To get started, Anthrotech will conduct a national search for a physical anthropologist to manage the project, and then hire a measuring and scanner operating team. The current staff of four full-time and six part-time employees will help train the new hires for the 21 months of scanning, leaving three months at the end of the project to generate a final report.

While the Army contract will be consuming, Anthrotech also maintains contracts with other companies, such as one that makes sleep apnea respirators in Pennsylvania, one that designs truck cabs in West Virginia and one that makes surgical gowns in Illinois.

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