Workshop equips scientists, engineers to communicate technology

By Nikki Montgomery, AMRDEC Public AffairsSeptember 17, 2015

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REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Sept. 16, 2015) -- Noble prize winner and physicist, Erwin Schrodinger once said, "If you cannot - in the long run - tell everyone what you have been doing, your doing has been worthless."

Understanding this adage, the Research, Development, and Engineering Command partnered with the American Association for the Advancement of Science to provide educational workshops teaching the command's employees how to effectively communicate their work.

The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center hosted the first workshop "Communicating Science: Tools for Scientists and Engineers" at Redstone Arsenal Sept. 15.

Traditional scientific training typically does not prepare scientists to be effective public communicators, explains the AAAS website. This becomes problematic when scientists are increasingly requested by their institutions and funding agencies to extend beyond the scientific community and communicate their research directly to public audiences.

Dustin Clark, an AMRDEC mechanical engineer, shared his reasoning for attending the three hour course.

"In my job, I've found myself increasingly having to present on the products we create," said Clark. "This ranges from briefing the programs we support or at conferences. By attending the class, I hope to become more comfortable speaking and presenting our information in the best way possible."

In a memorandum addressed to all RDECOM personnel, Executive Deputy to the Commanding General, Jyuji D. Hewitt expressed the significance behind the workshops.

"Learning to better shape and deliver technical messages clearly and effectively, as we tell the RDECOM story, will have enduring positive results," Hewitt said.

According to Hewitt, scientists and engineers who foster information-sharing and respect between the technical community and the public are essential for the public communication of, and engagement with, science.

"That engagement," said Hewitt, "is essential to our strength as an organization, an Army and a nation. We have an active corps of such ambassadors to the public, but we need more to communicate to the growing number of audiences we are engaging."

The workshop covered topics such as message development, defining the audience, identifying opportunities for engaging the public, and practice with presentations and cameras. Attendees engaged with AAAS trainer, Linda Hosler, learning through group discussion, resource sharing, and participation in critique of other participants' presentations.

"It was good to hear that simple is okay," Clark said after the class. "Using scientific jargon and throwing out data isn't always the most helpful way to get our point across. By being clear and concise, we can avoid complicating the information."

The training is a key element of RDECOM's Communication Policy which will be published soon.


The Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

Related Links:

U.S. Army Material Command Science and Technology News

U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command