Picatinny project engineer prepares for overseas mission
January 14, 2014
- For one Picatinny engineer, a new year brings a new assignment in France.
- Sandra Gomez will serve as the technical director for the RDECOM International Technology Center (ITC) in France.
- As technical director, Gomez will also help identify technologies which are of interest for the U.S. Army.
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- Picatinny Arsenal
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- Picatinny Arsenal on Facebook
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PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. (Jan. 14, 2014) -- The New Year may serve as an impetus for change among many employees at Picatinny Arsenal. For one Picatinny engineer, that change starts in France.
For 11 years, Sandra Gomez has been a project engineer at the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center.
But this month Gomez's career will take a new trajectory as she begins a three-to-five year position as the technical director for the RDECOM International Technology Center in France.
RDECOM is the Army's Research, Development, and Engineering Command and leads supporting organizations in its goal to protect the Warfighter through engineering solutions.
The center at which Gomez will service is part of the RDECOM Forward Element Command in London, which is the Army's "go-to" organization for research and development activities throughout Europe, Africa and some regions of Asia.
At the International Technology Center, employees assist scientists from RDECOM and other Army labs, to exchange technological information to advance Army's research and development programs and to help forge alliance with friendly countries.
As technical director, Gomez will also help identify technologies which are of interest for the U.S. Army and will coordinate with the International Offices of the Army labs to assess foreign technologies from Spain, France, Italy, and other countries in southern Europe.
Additionally, Gomez will participate in RDECOM's engineer exchange program by helping engineers identify potential one-year assignments in European locations. She will also help distribute grants to foreign universities and institutes that will perform research for the Army.
"It's a great move and an incredible career opportunity," said Gomez. "It will help me gain a wider perspective within RDECOM and experience the work conducted abroad that promotes allied and multination operations through basic research, applied science and engineering."
PRIOR TO PARIS
Gomez graduated from the Steven's Institute of Technology in 2002, earning her bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.
However, her interest in Picatinny started at a high school career fair, where a representative offered information sessions on government organizations and their responsibilities.
"I always wanted to work for the government, but I was interested in Picatinny because you get to see the lab and facilities and you can actually see something go from concept to project," Gomez said. "They also encourage you to go back to school. That's how I got my master's degree."
Her role here has been to provide program management support on gunfire detection systems, such as the sniper detection systems. She also is responsible for special operations commands that aim to synchronize global operations against terrorist networks.
But while her job is based at Picatinny, Gomez frequently travels abroad for her work, attending conferences in Italy, France, Germany and other European countries.
It was through this travel that Gomez began teaching herself to speak French, a language that she's been practicing for four to five years now. It was also how Gomez heard about the international positions throughout RDECOM.
"(RDECOM) was interesting because you got to see all these different technologies throughout the world and it wasn't ARDEC specific," Gomez said. "Here [at Picatinny], we work more with ammo and explosives, but there are also tanks and chemical and biological warfare at our events and I liked this broad view."
When these types of positions opened in 2013, Gomez applied for the opportunity through USA Jobs.com. She received a job offer in October.
"I was surprised because I knew a lot of people applied for it," said Gomez. "My husband was happy because he knew it was something I wanted to do, so we're both happy and surprised."
One challenge that Gomez expects to face, though, is becoming familiar with the technology from individual labs, including medical or chemical technology, and the different needs of each organization, such as the Army's Soldier lab.
She also anticipates some trouble adapting to the French culture, which she views as more relaxed than America's fast-paced culture.
Yet Gomez looks forward to gaining a new perspective on how various processes are performed throughout the Army. She also wants to expand her technological knowledge to help ARDEC gain potential collaborations that will help lower R&D Costs, accelerate R&D Cycle & mitigate R&D Risks.
"This overseas assignment is not only a way of achieving a long-term career goal and overall professional development, but also a way to enhance my cross-cultural awareness," Gomez said. "This assignment will definitely be an exciting, challenging, and rewarding experience."
ARDEC 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.