REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Joan Reichwein Smith, systems integration lead engineer at the Utility Helicopters Project Office, was selected as the 2013 Alabama Young Engineer of the Year by the Engineering Council of Birmingham earlier this year.

The ECOB is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that coordinates the engineering efforts of 17 member societies and educational organizations. The annual award recognizes contributions to engineering by a professional under the age of 35, including professional accomplishments, scholastic background, technical/professional society participation and civic/humanitarian outreach.

Smith is employed by the Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, where she supports the UH Project Office. She is responsible for hardware and software integration, as well as the facilitation of improvements to over 2,000 aircraft in the Black Hawk fleet.

In 2013, the year of performance recognized by ECOB, Smith served as the executive officer to then AMRDEC executive director Eric Edwards. In that capacity, she was responsible for performing special projects and studies associated with the missions and functions of AMRDEC, executing tasks and reporting requirements, and communicating across various levels of the workforce, leadership and stakeholders. She was responsible for identifying, developing, and recommending near, mid, and long range business and technical plans and processes. She engaged in the development and implementation of plans, objectives and processes to support the executive director's vision and direction. And she performed other duties as assigned.

Smith's career at AMRDEC began with the Weapons Development and Integration Directorate, where she was responsible for component testing and materials selection for incorporating multi-functional electronics into composite structures. She led multi-disciplinary team reviews for electro-mechanical layered structures to reduce system complexity, which resulted in a 20 percent decrease in manufacturing cycle times and 5 percent increase missile payload capability over the baseline design.

Smith has a bachelor's of science in metallurgical and materials engineering from the University of Alabama, where she graduated cum laude in 2008. Today she serves on the Capstone Engineering Society's Board of Directors where she supports recruiting, program development and alumni involvement for the College of Engineering. She also serves on the University of Alabama's Blackburn Institute Advisory Board, focusing on leadership development and networking to address statewide challenges.

Smith is a graduate of Leadership Huntsville's Connect program for young professionals, and serves as co-chair of the Connect Advisory Council. Through Connect, she has supported and led a number of impact projects, such as fundraising for tornado victims in Hackleburg.

Smith is also involved in a number of local organizations, including the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, the Committee of 100 and Junior League.

"It is important to be part of activities that are beyond your job," she said. "Giving makes a difference. Giving brings happiness."

As the Alabama Young Engineer of the Year, Smith hopes that the spotlight will provide even greater opportunities to promote the organizations and values that she supports.


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.