Harry S. Truman Dam

Large-Scale Hydraulic Structures Prototype Model Proof of Concept and Design


The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL) invites solutions for the proof of concept and design of a large-scale hydraulic structures prototype model in a controlled environment. This project seeks to replace outdated structures, methods, materials, and models to provide an environment in which novel designs and materials can be piloted and validated for hydraulic structures.

Problem Statement

Large-scale prototyping and experiments are needed to reduce risk for infrastructure innovations in new designs, materials, sensing, and repair methods prior to implementing on operating projects. To accomplish this, a new physical model proof of concept and design is needed that will enable USACE to test new innovations in a realistic, but controlled environment which demonstrates accurate structural, hydraulic, and material defect behaviors at a scale large enough to provide proof of readiness for deployment.


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) operates and maintains a large portfolio of hydraulic structures unique to its water resources mission space. Many of these structures are reaching the end of their lifecycle and will either need to be replaced or repaired to delay impending failures. Furthermore, many of the structures in the inventory were designed and placed into service many decades ago using outdated methods, materials, and models. The condition of hydraulic structures must be evaluated to prioritize maintenance and replacement, and design methods and materials must be updated to reflect modern understanding and standardsThis will be a unique physical modeling capability that combines hydraulic and structural loadings and does not exist readily in the United States.

Project Manager

Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL), U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC)


The objective of this prototype project is to develop a proof of concept and design for a large-scale hydraulic structures prototype model that will provide a controlled environment in which new condition assessments and novel designs and materials can be piloted and validated for hydraulic structures. This will be a unique physical modeling capability that combines hydraulic and structural loadings and does not exist readily in the United States. The resulting design capability will include a prototype model to be assembled, like a flume, that is sized to permit a pair of approximately 1:4 scale miter lock gates and similar sized structures. This will allow both hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loadings of the structures with water as well as structural loadings using laboratory equipment (e.g., actuators). The prototype model may consist of the structures, water system, loading components, laboratory grade data acquisitions and sensors (e.g., strain gauges, pressures cells, cameras, accelerometers, etc.), control systems, overhead covering, and overhead lift. In addition to lock gates, the model must be modular to accommodate other structural types (e.g., wicket gates, tainter spillway).

Desired attributes of the prototype model are as follows:

  • Designed to induce realistic hydraulic and structural loadings on large-scale (approximately 1/4 scale) fully operational hydraulic structures to investigate real-world details (e.g., cracking around welds, corrosion, debris)
  • Modular design to allow evaluation of various hydraulic structures (e.g., lock gates, valves, spillway gates)
  • Designed to validate new, innovative structural components that cannot be currently physically assessed to inform numerical models 
  • Must be designed for assembly at a location at ERDC in Vicksburg, MS

Offerors must be capable of proof of concept, project management, and assembly of all aspects of the prototype model (e.g., structural and hydraulic loading components, instrumentation, control systems, etc.). Including, but not limited to, ability to conduct a site assessment to meet design requirements of power, water, overhead lift, etc.

Applicants must be registered on SAM.gov. 

Estimated Government Funding Profile 

The government anticipates incremental funding beginning in FY24. Additional funding is anticipated in FY25.

The USACE, ERDC is using competitive procedures to select participants in a prototype transaction under 33 U.S.C 2313. If the prototype proof of concept and design is determined successful, agencies may exercise authority under 33 USC 2313(c)(2) to provide for, and award, a follow-on production transaction or FAR based contract without additional competitive procedures to assemble the prototype model. 

Estimated Period of Performance

12 months after award

Expected Result

This effort supports the Army priority of upgrading the Nation’s waterways to strengthen supply chains and economic growth, and White House priority to improve National security and economic resilience. This capability will impact multiple other innovation efforts for USACE.

Evaluation Criteria

White papers will be reviewed based on an integrated assessment of the following:

  • The degree to which the solution meets the requirements of the desired objectives.
  • Offeror(s) stated capabilities to develop a proof of concept and design, provide project management, and assemble all aspects of the prototype model. Including, but not limited to, ability to conduct a site assessment.
  • The degree to which the potential delivery schedule meets the governments stated period of performance.
  • The evaluation of potential impacts of the data rights assertions.
  • The evaluation of whether the white paper sufficiently demonstrates 1) significant participation by Non-Tranditional Defense Contractors (NDCs) or significant participation by non-profit research institutions, 2) all significant participants in the transaction other than the Federal Government are small businesses, or 3) at least one-third of the total cost of the prototype project is to be paid out of funds provided by parties other than the Federal Government.

Notional Project Schedule

Proposed project milestones include:

May 24, 2024Submissions Open
June 5, 2024FAQ Period Ends
June 12, 2024Submissions Close
June 17-21, 2024Evaluation Period, Virtual Pitch Hosted (if needed)
June 28, 2024Selected Participants Notified by ERDC of Request for Full Proposal

*If needed; dates may vary to accommodate project team and participant availability.

Project Security Classification


How to Participate

1. Review the complete solicitation
2. Review FAQs
3. Once the white paper is ready to submit, complete the submission form

Questions: Please send all technical and administrative questions using this form. FAQs will be updated periodically. It is the responsibility of the offeror to review FAQs prior to submitting.

Submissions must meet stated requirements and be received no later than 5:00 pm CT on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

Submissions should NOT include confidential or proprietary details. Submissions will be reviewed by ERDC/government subject matter experts and may be shared as appropriate with other ERDC parties. The government has the authority to decline all submitted proposals. The government does not plan to engage in the debrief process outlined in FAR part 15, but will provide feedback to unsuccessful offerors as appropriate and at its discretion. 

ERDC seeks to enter into non-FAR or FAR-based agreements with Industry, Academia, and National Lab partners whose solutions are favorably evaluated. As such, this project is considered competitive in the same manner as a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) or Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO), and solutions will be evaluated independently of one another primarily for technical merit. Notice: IAW 10 U.S.C. 4022(f), a follow-on, noncompetitive, Production OT may be awarded following the successful completion of a Prototype OT.

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