ERDC engineer earns nation’s gratitude

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 28, 2009

Perhaps it’s not possible to win a war from behind a desk, but it’s certainly possible to use brainpower to put a major dent in an enemy’s ability to inflict casualties.

Joshua Fairley, electrical engineer at the Army’s Engineering Research and Development Center, has been credited by no less than U.S. Sen Thad Cochran, R-Miss., for doing just that.

Fairley, 35, has been praised by Cochran for improving the ability of coalition forces to detect roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan by 75 percent.

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These stealth devices, remotely triggered as patrols or convoys pass, have been responsible for thousands of deaths and injuries during the years of insurgent warfare in those distant lands.

But working right here in Vicksburg, the Corps of Engineers employee was lead designer of a mathematical method of analyzing data from sensors to pinpoint improvised explosive devices or IEDs before they are detonated.

Fairley is from Petal and has worked in Vicksburg where his wife, Sandra, is a native, for seven years. He’s a graduate of Mississippi State University, from which, he says, he expects to earn a master’s degree later this summer.

While any engineering degree is to be respected, we’d say Fairley is well past the academic stage of learning. He put his analytical mind to work in an innovative, practical way that will have immediate lifesaving results.

“We’re proud of him as a Mississippian,” Cochran said. “He has improved our capabilities to detect devices before they cause harm.”

All of America should be proud, too.

Civilized people despise war, but can’t seem to escape armed conflicts. How good it is, then, to have military might as well as acute thinkers on the side of freedom.