RDECOM reaches out to local youth
Dmitri Nguyen, center, a robotics engineer from the Tank, Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, shows students at Sam Houston High School how to navigate two Army robots.

SAN ANTONIO -- U.S. Army robotics engineers showed students at Sam Houston High School here today how robots empower, unburden and protect the American Warfighter.

The presentation was part of the educational outreach effort by the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command as it participates in activities at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The game features stellar athletes from across the nation and will be televised nationally by NBC. Kickoff is Saturday, Jan. 8, at 1 p.m. EST.

The Sam Houston students were invited to control the robots for a firsthand experience of how they work.

"The presentation was awesome! I enjoyed playing with the robots and making them move around. The robots help the Army and the Soldiers prevent injuries and come home safe," Kirsten Redmon, a member of Sam Houston High's Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, said.

"It's really risky for Soldiers to have to go into random places, but the Army has built these special robots with cameras that will help not risk as many lives," Tiffany Burgess, another JROTC member, added.

Along with giving the students an up-close experience with the robots, Karen Ryder, RDECOM educational outreach, explained leadership, options and opportunities the Army offers young Americans, including the Student Temporary Employment and Student Career Education Programs.

"When I was a junior in high school, the Army gave me an opportunity to work with full-time engineers. It paved the way for my college career and helped me develop and mature into the engineer I am today," Dmitri Nguyen, an Army engineer from the Tank, Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, told the 120 students taking part in the program.

"Our Army isn't an average Army. There are over 150 different career paths to choose from in the Army. We have skills, talents and strengths that you won't find anywhere else in the world."Edward Schoenherr, U.S. Army engineer said.

"Most kids will have to depend on getting money for college," Burgess said. "But with these programs, there are opportunities for the Army to help pay for college."

"A lot of kids won't go to college because they don't have the funds, so these programs are a great opportunity. You will be able to help the Army and be a part of something really big" Redmon added.

Being a part of something bigger than yourself was the underlying theme of the day's presentation.

"In private industry, the bottom line is making money," Nguyen said. "There is nothing inherently wrong with this. However, I think within the Army, we have a higher sense of duty to the Warfighter. Having that in the back of my mind helps give me a higher sense of duty and purpose."

"The bottom line is that you're working for the advancement and protection of the Warfighter, the protection of our country and ensuring of our freedom," Sgt. Glenn Brunson, support soldier from the Natick Soldier System Center said. "You're actually working for a greater cause."

The outreach effort includes two teams demonstrating robotics capabilities and one team demonstrating food science capabilities. The three teams will visit nine schools in the San Antonio area over three days reaching an estimated 400 students.

"We talk a lot about serving the country your way," explained Erica Bertoli, Education Outreach Team Lead for the Communications, Electronics, Research, Development and Engineering Center.

"These kids are patriotic. They want to do something to support their communities and their country, but not all of them want to put on a uniform and that's legitimate.

"We want to make sure these kids know there are options for them that exist beyond the uniform. They can still be a part of the Army team. They can still have a hand in protecting our Soldiers, protecting our nation and doing it in a lab rather than doing it in a uniform," Bertoli said.

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