REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (May 29, 2013) -- Words like green and sustainability are often used to refer to recycling, taking better care of the Earth, and new or alternative forms of energy, such as solar- or wind-power.
Army engineer Gregory Harris would say it's much more than that and is working to make that point to the Army and to manufacturers involved in developing the latest military technology.
Harris takes a systems engineering approach to sustainability, which he said includes not just energy, the environment, production and the product, but also sustainability in the work force, technology and product lifecycle.
"When people think of 'green' they think of the environment and energy," Harris said, "but it's much, much more."
Harris is an engineer in the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's aviation and missile center. He is part of the Manufacturing Science and Technology Division, Engineering Directorate of the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center where he supports sustainability, supply chain management, model-based enterprise and manufacturing readiness initiatives.
Before joining AMRDEC, Harris was director of the Center for Management and Economic Research and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. It was in this role that Harris first started exploring the idea of sustainability.
"The key," Harris said, "is to integrate sustainability into everything you're doing; both the product and the process."
He recently completed coursework in Purdue University's Green Enterprise Development Workforce Training Program to become credentialed as a Green Manufacturing Specialist.
Developed by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and Purdue University, the program provides training in the latest green manufacturing practices and ideas through a series of in-depth training modules. After completing 56 hours of classroom instruction and a comprehensive final exam, students have a thorough understanding of the many topics that comprise sustainable manufacturing.
The program, he said, encourages manufacturers to change their way of thinking to actively look for ways to incorporate more sustainable, environmentally friendly improvements that have a positive effect on the bottom line.
As an engineer and a Green Manufacturing Specialist, Harris plays a vital role in AMRDEC providing education for his fellow Army employees and their business partners about integrating green practices into every facet of the manufacturing process.
"We need to be educating and providing assistance for improving sustainability," Harris said. "If you get people to actually think about it, sustainability starts to make sense.
Most of the time, it's just making people aware, then they start to realize there's more going into the trash bin than just trash. Sustainability is not just a good idea or the right thing to do, it makes financial sense because we are limiting waste and reducing costs."
Harris brings a wealth of education and experience with him to his current position.
He has a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Auburn University, a master's from St. Edwards University and a doctorate in industrial and systems engineering from UAH. His expertise in this area stems from more than 30 years experience as an industrial engineer, quality engineer, operations manager, plant manager, and consultant in operations and supply chain.
Along with his work at the AMRDEC, Harris is adjunct professor in the College of Business Administration and a member of the graduate faculty in the College of Engineering at UAH. He teaches courses in Supply Chain Management, Transportation and Logistics, and Production and Inventory Control. Harris also teaches systems engineering as an adjunct assistant professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Redstone campus.
AMRDEC is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.
RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.