Research center partnership trail leads to Puerto Rico
May 16, 2013
- "They just have a good engineering school. We know the professors. We respect their work and we respect their training."
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (May 16, 2013) -- Doug Felker knows excellence when he sees it, and he sees it in the engineering students at the University of Puerto Rico.
"We go to UPR because they have a lot of good students," said Felker, aviation branch chief in the Reliability, Affordability and Maintainability Engineering and System Assessment Division of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center's Engineering Directorate. "They just have a good engineering school. We know the professors. We respect their work and we respect their training. We get good people and they get a good reputation, and it just snowballs like that."
Felker and RAM division chief Tom Erickson have worked with the university in the development of the Aviation System Assessment Program tool to assist with meeting Failure Mode Effects and Criticality Analysis requirements.
The university has helped AMRDEC build software that allows the ASAP database and the FMECA analyst to talk to each other.
"FMECA is a prediction. ASAP is a field assessment," Felker explained. "If we need to build a FMECA, we can quickly build a skeletal FMECA from past data and how it's failed, and if we need to look at design and how it's meeting the design predictions, we can quickly pull it back and forth."
Erickson said his division sought to partner with UPR because of their expertise in several areas, such as condition-based maintenance and RAM.
"We looked at where their expertise lies and what activities we had ongoing, and we were looking for a way to partner with them," Erickson said. "We looked at some of our condition-based maintenance effort, and then Doug came up with some ideas where they could help us more efficiently accomplish that mission."
Felker added that the university is in the process of developing a strong RAM engineering program.
"Huntsville is the Silicon Valley of RAM engineering," Felker said. "We're interested because we're both becoming experts in RAM. It really is a pool of excellence, and we feel like we've tapped into a good source for RAM engineers."
The desire to work together is mutual, with many students from UPR seeking out opportunities with AMRDEC and Huntsville contractors.
AMRDEC mechanical engineer Dainys Carrasquillo, a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, worked under Felker, earlier this year, as a liaison for the RAM work the university was doing. Carrasquillo came to AMRDEC in 2010 through an opportunity with Intuitive Research and Technology's co-founder A.R. "Rey" Almodovar.
At the time, Carrasquillo was designing engine parts for commercial and military aircraft with Infotech Aerospace Services in Puerto Rico. Her friend and AMRDEC analyst Giselle Castro, who had joined AMRDEC in 2006, recommended Carrasquillo look at opportunities with Intuitive and AMRDEC; and the rest is history.
Carrasquillo moved to Huntsville in the summer of 2010; living for the first time off of her native island. "Huntsville is a great place for professional growth," Carrasquillo said.
"Being a Caribbean, I was used to summer all year, so now I'm enjoying the changes and different colors of fall and winter," he said. "I saw snow for the first time two years ago, and I really enjoyed that. The transition was hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be since I have friends here and co-workers and people from Huntsville are pretty nice and they helped me a lot. Having my friends here makes me feel at home, but it's pretty different. I was used to having the beach about 15 minutes from home and here you need to drive six hours. Still, it feels good to be here."
Erickson said there is a significant amount of competition for students in Puerto Rico.
"When you go down there and interview students you'll have all the big industries there recruiting those same students, not just DoD contractors, but industry as a whole because they do have such a solid engineering program," he said.
AMRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.