Recruiting officer urges APG, RDECOM to share Army's high-tech message
May 16, 2011
- "We have to make this a beacon for colleges, high school principals and national educators"
- Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commanding general, U.S. Army Accessions Command, pushes science outreach efforts.
- New Soldiers' qualifications are the strongest since 1992.
- Edgewood Chemical Biological Center demonstrates latest technological advancements.
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., May 16, 2011 -- Sharing the Army's high-tech story with the American public will help build a stronger military, a senior recruiting officer said May 13, 2011, during a visit to Aberdeen Proving Ground's research facilities.
Lt. Gen. Benjamin Freakley, commanding general, U.S. Army Accessions Command, said many high school students, parents and teachers are not aware of the Army's cutting-edge research and development. Long-held incorrect notions about the military are difficult to break, he said.
"We need to change how people think about the Army," Freakley said. "Who aren't we telling the Army story to' Imagine if local high-school Junior [Reserve Officer Training Corps] kids could come out here to see technology, science, engineering and math. It would fire them up."
Maj. Gen. Nick Justice, commanding general, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, and Alvin "AJay" Thornton, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, or ECBC, engineering director, led Freakley on a tour of ECBC's Advanced Design and Manufacturing complex. Scientists demonstrated the Joint Service Aircrew Mask and chemical equipment on the Raven unmanned aerial vehicle.
Freakley encouraged Aberdeen Proving Ground officials to engage with educators. His command recently formed a partnership with the National Education Association after six representatives attended a training session for Soldiers at Fort Leavenworth.
"We have to make this a beacon for colleges, high school principals and national educators," Freakley said.
Aberdeen Proving Ground, home to major Army laboratories, testing centers and thousands of scientists, is a prime location for science, technology, engineering and mathematics outreach, Justice said.
Justice said many Aberdeen Proving Ground organizations participate in science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, outreach events, including RDECOM's eCybermission, a national science competition for 12,000 middle-school students, and ECBC's mentoring in local schools.
By introducing and explaining the importance of STEM to students, parents and teachers, the Army will be able to recruit better talent for its Soldier and civilian ranks. They will see how the Army turns its research into real-world applications on the battlefield.
"Our Army is getting superb talent, and [RDECOM is] carrying the message about the high-tech side of the Army," Freakley said. "Only 23 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds are accepted into the Army. Our standards are higher than most colleges."
New Soldiers' qualifications are the strongest since 1992, he said.
Justice said RDECOM engages its university affiliated research centers at the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Texas and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to tap into top research teams.
"It gives us hooks into that technology pool," Justice said.