Top Army scientists gather at West Point
Maj. Gen. Nick Justice (left), Research, Development and Engineering Command commanding general, gives opening remarks to 40 general officer-equivalent senior research scientists April 27, during a conference at West Point, N.Y.

WEST POINT, N.Y. (April 28, 2010) -- The Army's best and brightest senior scientists gathered for a science and technology conference April 27-29 at the U.S. Military Academy.

Research, Development and Engineering Command Commanding General Maj. Gen. Nick Justice addressed the gathering on the opening day of the three-day event.

Justice said he travels to various Army labs and research centers and continues to be amazed at the work Army scientist do every day. The general said Army scientists should be focused on solving problems for Soldiers.

"There is nobody in the world like the American Soldier," he said. "They are 19- and 20-years-old, and they didn't come from MIT. They don't have a Ph.D. in physics, and they didn't go to Harvard or Yale. They came out of high school."

Justice said today's American Soldier carries the weight of the world while standing guard in far-away lands.

"The bottom line is you owe them everything this nation can produce to help them be safe, and to help them solve their problems," he said.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rdecom/4558285822/" title="Top Army scientists gather at West Point by RDECOM, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3056/4558285822_a01751ef09_m.jpg" hspace="10" align="right" width="152" height="240" alt="Top Army scientists gather at West Point" /></a>The 40 senior scientists gather each year to discuss common issues while networking.

The research that goes on at U.S. Military Academy, along with the interaction with Army labs, offers cadets unique opportunities. West Point is the only university that the Army can call its own.

Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department Head Col. Steve Ressler, a USMA professor, told the group that he hopes they leave with a better appreciation for what the academy does to support the Army.

"We are a very forward-looking organization," Ressler said when welcoming the scientists. "We take great pride in the extent to which we are attempting to assume a leadership role in engineering education on a national scale."

Ressler said USMA is helping to move engineering education into the 21st century. The scientists are scheduled to participate in the academy's Projects Day April 29, where senior cadets will present their design projects and research experiences.

"We feel that as an institution, which focuses on education and devotes so much time, energy and attention to the business of the education and development of young people, that we have an obligation to share that expertise with the nation," Ressler said.

"It's also an opportunity for these scientists to interact with cadets and to find out what makes them tick and to bring back those experiences to the lab where they can be enacted," said Dr. Way Fountain, Ph.D.

Fountain is the senior research scientist for chemistry at the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's chemical and biological center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. As a former USMA professor and the event coordinator, Fountain wanted his peers to connect with cadets and the academy.

"One of my goals was to bring together senior scientists and allow them to interact with the academy and let them see what goes on here," Fountain said.

He said cadets who will soon become young officers need to have exposure to science and technology.

"Technology that Soldiers have today didn't just get created overnight," he said. "In some cases, it took decades of research in order to produce a piece of material, or a kit that they have in the field. The work that goes on at Army labs and research centers is critical to Soldiers."

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