Army enhances readiness by embracing internship program
September 1, 2010
- Research center hosts Minority Undergraduate Student Internship Program
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center partnered with the Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education and the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command's Minority College Relations Program this summer to facilitate the second session of the 10-week Minority Undergraduate Student Internship Program with great success.
"Now in its second year, MUSIP has already yielded excellent results," said MUSIP coordinator Debbie Buckless. "With 25 percent of last year's participants returning and another 25 percent finding employment with ECBC, we believe that both the students and the Center have realized a great opportunity."
In support of the Center's ongoing goal to strengthen its workforce, promote diversity and encourage students to pursue careers in science and engineering, MUSIP provided ten undergraduates from across the country with the opportunity to enhance their education by working on challenging, real-world science, technology and engineering research projects with top scientists and engineers.
Each student was assigned to an ECBC employee who acted as a mentor throughout the internship's busy schedule of activities, which included: a tour of the Pentagon, a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment training, cross-directorate brown bag luncheons, coffee with the Technical Director, a windshield tour of ECBC and a specialized research project.
"I truly enjoyed spending time with my MUSIP colleagues during lunches other organized events, but everyday was a new and exciting experience with my mentor Chika Nzelibe and the Advanced Design and Manufacturing team," said Morgan State University junior Michael Bennett, Jr. "When I showed up on the first day in a suit and tie and was told that I should come the next day in boots and a t-shirt, I knew I made a good decision with this internship. In addition to working on the Chemical Air Monitoring Suite fabrication and installation plan, I was asked to present my findings at the project's Critical Design Review. This allowed me to see the heavy-lifting and deep-thinking aspects of the work that is done here at Edgewood."
The summer program was first conceived in 2008 by ECBC's Diversity Advisory Committee and Workforce Management Office, and later staffed by ORISE for the inaugural session in 2009. This year, the RDECOM MCRP assisted ECBC in enlisting two new students from local Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
"The MCRP mission is to develop and administer aggressive outreach strategies that promote mutually beneficial collaborative partnerships and relationships with HBCUs, tribal colleges and universities, and Hispanic serving institutions," said RDECOM Minority College Relations Program Manager Neslie Etheridge during a recent interview about the program. "By partnering with such institutions we aim to enhance Army programs and future readiness by recruiting a highly-skilled workforce from local and national minority institutions."
The undergrads completed the program with a graduation ceremony that celebrated their hard work and highlighted their accomplishments during the summer-long internship with individual presentations to senior leadership. During the ceremony, many of the students commented on their enthusiasm for working in an organization that supports the Warfighter and the nation.
"I have always wanted to work for the federal government," said Morgan State University junior Richard Negri. "And doing this internship has shown me how many people it takes to keep our soldiers and homeland safe. I am thrilled that ECBC and the MCRP have given me this opportunity."
Following the graduation ceremony, MUSIP participants hosted a casual poster presentation session where they discussed and highlighted their personalized research projects with help from their ECBC mentors.
Aiming to build upon the success of this second MUSIP session, the Center is already preparing for a summer 2011 session.