JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The U.S. Army continued to expand its partnership with New Jersey school districts during a professional development day for superintendents, principals and supervisors Sept. 23.
The U.S. Army Central Jersey Recruiting Company, Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Battalion partnered with the U.S. Army Materiel Command's Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, Ground Activity to develop a program that allows educators to learn and experience the Army's practical applications of science, technology, engineering and math.
Events like this enable CERDEC to demonstrate to people unfamiliar with the military that the Army is a very high-tech organization, said Steve Slane, CERDEC Ground Activity Experimentation Branch chief.
The two organizations initially hosted a professional development day for New Jersey School Boards Association members in July, and attendee feedback recommended those in leadership roles at the schools should attend a future event, said Capt. Carl Hartman, company commander, U.S. Army Central Jersey Recruiting Company, Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Battalion.
The CERDEC Ground Activity engineers provided anecdotes of their own educational and career paths to help explain and show educators a technical side of the Army that educators might not have known about.
The CERDEC Ground Activity, which is part of CERDEC's Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate, provides the Army with a venue to assess and validate next-generation network technologies.
"We wanted to make sure the educators understood that the Army provides opportunities for technical training, experience, and IT and Network certifications that can lead to good paying jobs back in the civilian world," Slane said.
In addition to civilian jobs with the Army, the Army offers Soldiers training in Military Occupation Specialties, or MOS, which closely align to technical and engineering jobs outside of the Army.
"They [students] aren't asking about opportunities with the Army because they don't understand the opportunities," said Lt. Col. Edward C. Croot, Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Battalion commander.
Croot, a New Jersey native, explained various option to educators including the ability for students to join the Army Reserves as a way to explore what they think they are interested in as a career and as a way to help pay for college.
"Let me show them [the students] those jobs; there are 20 vacancies across the river on Fort Dix in South Jersey in the Reserve Unit. They can go to basic, start paying for college again, finish out their year, go to AIT the next summer to drill with the reserve unit, go back to college- they're back at the university, and mom and dad are happy," Croot said.
Croot and his recruiters emphasized opportunities beyond from joining the reserves to help pay for college, such as gaining real-world experience to be more competitive in the college application process, and using technical certificates earned while in the military as a way to stand out among other job applicants.
One Army reservist told Croot she was able to work in a medical related MOS as a way to make sure she wanted to pursue medical school before she got saddled with medical school loans. While she was with the Reserves, she received practical, hands-on experience that most of her classmates would never have the opportunity to experience until later in their schooling, Croot said.
The Central Jersey Recruiting Company, CERDEC and the NJSBA are looking to continue similar events in the future in order to provide educators with a deeper understanding of the possibilities for the Army to help further education initiatives and goals in New Jersey.
The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.