Engaging young minds
Jose Gonzalez, a branch chief at ARL’s Survivability Lethality Analysis Directorate in White Sands Missile Range, N.M., talks with an engineering student Oct. 9 at the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference about career opportunities.

ORLANDO, Fla. - Hundreds of America's brightest engineering students explored how they can serve their country as Army civilian scientists at a career fair Oct. 9.

Staff members from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command gathered to talk with the future scientists who will empower, unburden and protect Soldiers for the coming decades. The event concluded the three-day Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference.

Will Flores, a computer and electrical engineering major at North Carolina State University, talked about his inspiration for computer and engineering. He said he routinely fixes computers for his family and friends and looks forward to using his education in the laboratory.

"When I was 9 years old, my father bought a Tandy computer at Radio Shack," he said. "I was playing around with it one day, and I messed it up.

"I said [to myself] that I was going to take it apart and fix this. Ever since, I got hooked. I got the bug."

Flores is interested in a career in parallel processing and reconfigurable computing.

Recruiters and engineers from four RDECOM organizations - Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center; Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center; Army Research Laboratory; and Simulation and Training Technology Center - discussed the available opportunities as an Army scientist with students.

Jose Gonzalez, a branch chief at ARL's Survivability Lethality Analysis Directorate at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., said meeting prospective employees in person is better for the Army and its future workers.

"When you come to these types of job fairs, they provide the opportunity for students to expose themselves to the organization," Gonzalez said. "It gives a multi-dimensional picture of the individual.

"It's not just a technical background that we're looking for. We're also looking for them to build as a team and how they can think outside of the box."

Students said meeting the people behind an organization helps in their career searches. Rafael Antonio Arevalo is an electrical engineering major with a concentration in controls at Florida International University. He said he enjoyed the face-to-face interaction with employers.

"One of the things that I gained, besides the networking, was also a closer experience with prospective employers," Arevalo said. "They see you as a person, and I took good advice from them."

The conference also assists RDECOM in achieving its goal of creating a diverse workforce, Gonzalez said. Hiring researchers with a wide range of backgrounds will strengthen the command's success.

"Coming to these events helps the student to understand that we are looking for all types," Gonzalez said. "Diversity means all kinds - physically impaired or Hispanic or African-American, whatever nationality you run into. We're looking because they can give us a piece of something that is unique to them."

RDECOM is hiring aerospace, chemical, computer, electrical, electronics, materials and mechanical engineers. The command's locations include Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and New Mexico.

Nick West, a human resources specialist at Aberdeen Proving Ground's Civilian Personnel Advisory Center, said the career fair is an opportunity to take students from the classroom to an Army laboratory quickly.

"The main objective is to find highly qualified student engineers and offer them conditional offers on the spot," West said. "[We] then work with their CPACs back at their locations and consummate the offers with legal practices that the CPACs need to undertake. They can [also] get their resumes and take those resumes back to work them there and make offers at a later point."

Arevalo said he is looking forward to turning his education into real-world results.

"I got into this major because my dream as a child was to be able to invent something," he said. "Getting into a research laboratory to help others and make something new is great."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16