RDECOM advances outreach, education effort at AUSA symposium
February 25, 2011
- Outreach and education effort at AUSA
- Outreach means face-to-face interaction with the Warfighter
- Feedback is critical for product development and enhancement
- STEM education outreach is significant
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Research, Development and Engineering Command's outreach and education effort was in full force at the Association of the United States Army's Institute of Land Warfare Winter Symposium and Exposition Feb. 22-25.
RDECOM displayed some of its latest technology at the symposium as part of the Army Materiel Command's exhibit to share what it has developed for Soldiers and gain feedback from members of the defense community.
RDECOM is a subsidiary of AMC and is the Army's primary source for integrated research, development and engineering capabilities.
"We're raising awareness of what RDECOM and AMC do," James Megliola, a member of strategic outreach for the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center said. "People learn that the Army actually invents things and they are impressed with that. A lot of times they ask how they can get on board."
Conferences like the AUSA symposium give members of the defense community the opportunity to exchange ideas and build collaborative relationships that further advance support for the American Warfighter.
"If somebody gives me feedback, I will let our engineers know. And when they get a suggestion that they may not have thought of, that is really exciting. The strategic outreach really pays off," Megliola said.
"One element is that we get to meet with senior leaders -- both military and civilian -- and get them up to speed on some of the great stuff we are working on," Gerry Darsch, director of the Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate said.
With RDECOM's mission to empower, unburden and protect the Warfighter, the face-to-face interaction with members of the military that occurs at these gatherings is key for product development and enhancement.
"One of our goals in participating in venues like AUSA is the opportunity to talk with Warfighters, most importantly. We get their opinions on the products we've recently made and get some suggestions on improvements we can make," Darsch said.
"We bring in our partners, and most importantly, the Warfighter as early in the process as possible. We want to be sure we get it done right the first time," he continued.
The outreach is not limited to just the adults attending the symposium. The effort is also expanded to students, particularly those involved in an initiative that RDECOM has taken significant steps to spearhead at Aberdeen proving Ground.
"Another thing that is very important is STEM education outreach. That is something that we are big believers in. We always take the opportunity to share science, particularly when the kids or JROTC come by," Kathy Evangelos, team leader and executive assistant with the DoD Combat Feeding Directorate said.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and is an initiative throughout the country with the goal of improving students' performance and achievement in science-related subjects. RDECOM conducted the first of what is to be expected to be numerous STEM summits Feb. 11 at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
"We do more than just tell them about the rations and give them a sample to taste," Evangelos said. "We explain the science behind how they were developed because we think it's so important to train up the next generation."