REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--One activity required choosing the site for a new Redstone Arsenal building and then providing the reasoning behind the choice.

Another activity involved taking a flight helmet apart and then rebuilding it while also correcting errors in the helmet’s technical manual.

Other activities focused on developing a foreign military sales case, flying a Kiowa helicopter simulation and calibrating the weights of a bathroom scale.

Students participating in the weeklong Adventures at AMCOM program get to experience the jobs that make Redstone Arsenal work " from the information technology specialist who ensures computers are operating to the logistician who must ensure the right helicopter and missile parts get where they are needed to the software engineer helping to design the next upgrade to America’s Army.

Adventures at AMCOM is one of several Arsenal and Armywide educational initiatives that reach out to local school systems and their students, providing opportunities to learn about Arsenal careers, explore the fields of science and technology, and understand what it takes to become an Army civilian. While many Arsenal educational initiatives are connected with a national Department of Defense program, Adventures at AMCOM is an example of an Arsenal-developed educational initiative designed to address Redstone’s future work force needs.

The newest aspect of AMCOM’s Army Educational Outreach Program, Adventures at AMCOM was developed several years ago by AMCOM deputy commander Ronnie Chronister to reach some of the younger members of the community and educate them concerning the importance of AMCOM’s role in supporting the war fighter.

“This program was implemented last year for the first time,” said AMCOM command group executive officer Tammy Haynes, who, along with executive officer Patrick Newbold, is coordinating Adventures at AMCOM this year.

“They start the week with an AMCOM 101 overview of the Arsenal that includes a top-level, exciting visualization of what we do here and how it relates back to the mission of supporting the war fighter. The activities they are involved in encourage teamwork, and a lot of creativity and imagination.”

During the week of June 20-24, the group of about 18 high school students will spend their time in activities that will involve AMCOM organizations in coordination with the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, and the Garrison.

Besides a week of hands-on activities, simulated experiences with Army hardware and exposure to the Army’s success stories, the students will participate in lunch programs where they will learn about job interviewing, resume writing and Army culture.

“The direction to each participating organization is to get the students involved,” Haynes said “The requirement is to make this extremely hands-on.”

The students were nominated through their local high school counselor’s office. The applicants were then selected by AMCOM based upon certain criteria. Numerous schools from the surrounding counties will be represented.

“This is an extremely motivated, diverse and intelligent group of kids. They are not all necessarily strong in math and science. Although we have numerous engineering driven areas, we want these kids to know that no matter what they want to do in their career we have a place for them here,” Haynes said.

“We are trying to plant a seed of realization that the Army is here and that we have all these wonderful opportunities. We want to tell them ‘Look at some of the cool things we do out here in support of the war fighter. It this interests you, keep that in mind as you go through college.’ Hopefully, we will be able to lure in the best and brightest in the future so we can continue to be the best in support of the war fighter.”

Community outreach, role modeling and professional development are all goals of the Adventures at AMCOM program.

“The ultimate goal is we want to encourage awareness of what we do here and how we support the war fighter,” Haynes said. “If they’ve never been through the gate, they have no idea how vast and diverse the organizations are here. And, if they are willing to work hard, hopefully there will be an opportunity for them eventually.”

Those goals are shared by all Arsenal organizations as they focus on cultivating the future work force.

“Scientists and engineers are a big part of everything we do here,” said Gayla Turner McMichael, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education and Outreach manager for AMRDEC as well as the Army program lead for the National Defense Education Program.

“Our footprint here is so large in terms of the increasing number of scientists and engineers for our future work force. We need a work force locally that will meet the needs of a demanding future. We have to draw in a work force that will meet our mission of providing the best in aviation and missiles. Right now, in our graduates, the work force of the future is not there. And that’s why we need to participate and encourage involvement in genuine educational programs that are strictly mapped to state standards for science and math.”

All Army programs " developed through NDEP or the Army Educational Outreach Program " meet that criteria, McMichael said, making them popular in classrooms throughout the nation. AMRDEC also participates in locally developed programs, such as Girls in Engineering, job shadow events and Adventures at AMCOM.

“Whatever anybody is doing out there to excite students about science and technology, we want to do our part to be a part of that,” McMichael said.

“We especially want to be involved in programs that encourage innovation, discovery and creative thinking in science and research and development. We are happy to partner with a school to offer significant programs to teachers and students that benefit us by allowing us to make a contribution and to develop the future work force.”

Growing the future work force is twofold " one, developing interest and capabilities within the area’s student population that will lead to Arsenal-related careers, and, two, working with both elementary and secondary schools on offering programs that excite and involve students in science and math.

“There are many, many partnerships between the Redstone community and the local schools,” said Barbara Williams, school liaison officer for the Garrison.

In early March, the Garrison hosted a Huntsville City Schools principal’s meeting on post, providing the group with information on educational outreach programs. The meeting was so successful that plans include expanding next year.

“We want them to understand what the resources are at Redstone. We want to encourage relationships between the Arsenal and principals, directors and superintendents,” Williams said.

“Those relationships are important for developing our future work force and sharing our opportunities for students. But they are also important so that we can learn about their struggles and challenges, and work with them for the success of students. We want parents and students to know we are not just separate behind the gates. We’re part of this community and we want to work together to solve problems and issues, and to be a partner.”

Today’s students are our future, Williams said, and it is the responsibility of the entire community to show them what the future can look like.

“Through the partnerships we are involved in I hope students have gotten the exposure they need so they can make good decisions about their careers,” she said. “If children aren’t exposed to the different careers at Redstone Arsenal, then how will they know that they may want to come out here someday to be an engineer or to work in acquisition or logistics? How will they know what we have to offer if we don’t show them?”

Educational outreach programs on the Arsenal range from the science-oriented programs sponsored by AMRDEC to actual employment through the Garrison’s student program. In addition, the Army Materiel Command’s Band provides band programs for local schools, Fox Army Health Center opens its personal development and health programs to those of all ages, the Garrison offers after school, holiday and summer activities to enhance the educational experiences of Arsenal-connected students and, chances are, any extracurricular science, math or career development activity in the area’s schools have been influenced by Arsenal employees.

Here is a listing of some of the educational outreach programs offered by Arsenal organizations:

AMRDEC STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Outreach Activities " AMRDEC is a participate in the Army Educational Outreach Program, which is comprised of Army-sponsored research, education, competitions, internships and practical experiences designed to engage and guide students and teachers in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. Through the Army program, AMRDEC employees can volunteer with such programs as eCybermission, a web-based science, math and technology competition mentored and judged by Army employees; Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science, a one-week summer program that allows students to work in Army labs at Redstone to explore physics, optics, robotics and other engineering fields; and the Science and Engineering Apprentice Program, an eight-week summer program designed to engage high school students in hands-on activities and student/mentor relationships that encourage careers in science and engineering. AMRDEC engineers also participate in such programs as local science club activities, job shadow programs and diversity programs. For more information on the AMRDEC programs, contact AMRDEC STEM education and outreach manager Gayla Turner McMichael at gayla.turner.mcmichael@us.army.mil or 876-2789. Educational outreach information is also available at AMRDEC-Outreach@amrdec.army.mil.

AMCOM Army Education Outreach Program " This program began about three years ago to increase understanding and interest among students and teachers in AMCOM’s roles within the Army. This endeavor is a means to grow and sustain a future work force from youth within the local community while also providing leader development opportunities for AMCOM employees. The main objectives of this program include: Enhance student’s interest in lifecycle management by demonstrating real-world applications of the various career fields; provide students with an understanding of the kind of work and skills required within these fields; encourage students to consider business and technical careers at an early age; provide opportunities for AMCOM employees to hone their leader and communication skills; and establish and nurture relations between AMCOM and the local community. The program is comprised of three major activities " an annual job shadowing event for students from two local high schools; speaker’s bureau for AMCOM volunteers speaking in the community; and a weeklong summer program called Adventures at AMCOM " that encourage interaction between students and teachers, and AMCOM employees.

Army Materiel Command and Alabama A&M;University Minority College Relations Program (MCRP) Partnership Agreement " AMC’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office is in the midst of developing this partnership between AMC EEO and Alabama A&M;University. AMC will collaborate with Alabama A&M;on initiatives that will prepare students to compete in the work force. For more information, contact Karen Stradford-Wright, 450-9077, karen.stradfordwright@us.army.mil.

Army Materiel Command Adopt-A-School Program, University Place Elementary, Huntsville -- Every year AMC’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office sponsors an Adopt-A-School program wherein they provide tutoring and mentoring to students. The program runs from the beginning of the school year in August and ends at the end of the school year in May. For fiscal year 2011, AMC adopted University Place Elementary. AMC requested eight volunteers from AMC staff for the school year. These volunteers mentored and tutored 52 students in reading and math. For more information, contact Horace Wilson, 450-9088, horace.wilson@us.army.mil.

Missile Defense Agency -- Educational Engineering and Science Student Outreach serves as an educational liaison unit for the Missile Defense Agency. The outreach program’s goal is to expose, encourage and ignite interest in K-12 students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields and to increase the STEM pipeline through work force development. MDA’s Educational Outreach team is only one part of wide-reaching initiatives within the Department of Defense and particularly with National Defense Education Program to excite students about STEM disciplines. Activities involve students, school site personnel, parents and others involved in educational and career decision processes. To date, MDA’s educational outreach program has serviced thousands of students, either by developing new activities and programs or supporting area programs already in place. The program’s signature outreach activity is MDA’s Math Challenge Week, which challenges middle school students to apply mathematical skills in order to win a team-based competition. MDA also offers subject matter experts to serve as classroom speakers and share their experiences from college to careers. In a bimonthly, roundtable format, MDA’s program shares information with parents, educators, school counselors, community service and public services working with or supporting middle school and high school students regarding STEM education, college preparation, careers and related topics. In addition to providing direct services and activities, MDA’s program provides volunteer support to agencies, organizations and schools, including Boosting Engineering Science and Technology Robotics, IEEE Alabama Regional Future City Competition, Sci-Quest’s Expanding Your Horizons and UAHuntsville’s Innovative Student Project for the Increased Recruitment of Engineering and Science Students. For more information, email educationaloutreach@mda.mil.

NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center " MSFC employees participate in a wide variety of Marshall-inspired and national NASA education programs to nurture student interest in mathematics and science from elementary school through the college years, and encourage young people to consider careers in engineering and the aerospace industry. Those programs include HUNCH: High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware, which provides “work-world” experiences for students by engaging them in the design, fabrication and rapid prototyping of flight hardware; the Marshall Space Grant Research Internship Program, a 10-week summer research project to support Marshall’s workforce development and research needs; and the Marshall Space Flight Center Robotics Academy, a 10-week summer internship for students specifically interested in robotics. For information on all of NASA’s educational outreach programs, visit their website at http://www.nasa.gov or contact MSFC Academic Affairs Office at 961-0954 or tammy.rowan@nasa.gov.

Garrison Student Program " This program currently includes about 80 students participating in the Summer Hire Program, Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP) and Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). Students in the program range from high school students to students seeking their graduate degree. The program exposes students to a professional work environment and provides them with the tools to be successful in any work environment. The SCEP program allows students the opportunity to have a true work experience in their chosen major. The program also benefits the Garrison by serving as a pipeline for identifying employees for permanent positions. The Garrison’s student program allows Garrison employees to perform educational outreach in the community and to be involved in multiple career events at various community colleges and universities. In addition, Garrison employees have visited regional high schools to expose students to the opportunities that Redstone Arsenal has to offer. Many of the students in the Garrison program go on to become interns and successful employees within the Garrison and other government agencies as well as private industry. For more information regarding the Garrison Student Program, contact Stacy Hull, the Garrison’s Student Program coordinator at stacy.m.hull@us.army.mil.

Page last updated Thu May 26th, 2011 at 00:00