By Mr. Mervin Brokke (RDECOM)March 20, 2009
For the Army's civilian winner of the 2009 Department of Defense Women's History Month Foreign Language and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Role Model Award serving her country, giving back to her community, and helping students of all ages build a future is part of the job-a job she loves.
Christina Brantley, an Electrical Engineer in the Weapons Development and Integration Directorate of the Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, was selected for this year's DoD STEM Role Model Award in recognition of her support of the DoD mission, global war on terrorism, and her activities that epitomize the Army's core values of Leadership, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.
"I would like to thank all of the AMRDEC administration, my colleagues in the WDI Directorate and especially my mentors, Dr. Paul Ruffin (Senior Scientist for Microsensors and Systems in the WDI Directorate) and Mr. Eugene Edwards (Lead University Research & Outreach Engineer in the Technical Management Directorate). I am blessed to be a part of such a great team. Without the support of them I would not have been able to accomplish my career goals, nor participate in the many outreach opportunities at AMRDEC. I dedicate this award to the many engineers and scientists who devote their time to mentoring young students and engineers," said Brantley.
The Huntsville, Alabama native who graduated with honors from the Madison Academy, went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering at Tennessee State University and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Physics with a concentration in Materials from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, continues to set the example by helping students achieve their goals in the programs that helped her succeed.
"Good role models are needed in America today. It is our responsibility to mentor our young students, our youth, and gear them towards prosperous and important careers, including math, science, technology and engineering based careers. As a role model, I plan to continue down my educational track but also to strive to achieve leadership positions within various organizations and also just to continue to mentor young students and help them stay focused in the math and science fields," Brantley said.
While attending the Madison Academy, Brantley began her career in scientific research and engineering participating in the Science and Engineering Apprentice at AMRDEC.
"Being involved as a student in the SEAP program here at AMRDEC, was an unforgettable experience. The SEAP program was a direct bridge-it gave me an opportunity to apply my math and science ability to actual engineering applications. The engineers here gave me an opportunity for hands-on work in circuits, sensor design and other military applications. I was inspired to become an engineer by many people in my life including my parents, fellow engineers that I met while I worked in the SEAP program at AMRDEC," said Brantley.
Now, she gives back to the SEAP program by volunteering as a mentor every summer. Her students conduct research in the areas of electronic design, optics, and nanotechnology.
"Christina is an outstanding person with excellent character and integrity. She is a great mentor of Co-ops, summer students, and SEAP students. I cannot say enough good things about her effort, commitment, and dedication," said Roger Berry, Chief, Electronics and Computer Technology Function, WDI Directorate.
Her leadership potential and desire to nurture future engineers is evidenced by her participation in the Gains in the Education of Mathematics and Science program. She also developed and helps teach an Optics program for the Academy for Science and Foreign Language, in Huntsville, Alabama.
"Brantley has served in an exceptional manner as a positive role model for young people. She has guided, motivated, and mentored a number of grade school, high school, and college students participating in scientific enrichment programs," said Dr. William McCorkle, Director, AMRDEC.
Her efforts to recruit minority college students and promote diversity for the AMRDEC Co-Op program have proved invaluable. She was the first in her function to commence a joint scientific research effort with a Minority Institution, Alabama A&M University, to investigate the application of nanomaterial for weaponry health monitoring.
"Brantley has provided outstanding assistance to the WDI Co-op Coordinator in recruiting minority college students and promoting diversity for our Co-op program. She has been the key ingredient in the successful recruitment of high quality engineering students from her Alma Mater," McCorkle said.
Her work with students of all ages and backgrounds is inspiring and knows no limits.
"Brantley devotes a great deal of her time providing assistance to the economically disadvantaged in the community. She currently serves as a tutor in the Dr. Paul B. Ruffin Math Tutoring Academy - a science and math tutoring support activity initiated in 2005 to assist K-9 students who reside in public housing in the Huntsville area," McCorkle said.
"I encourage students to participate in the math and science fields by tutoring young students, as early as kindergarten, all the way up to high school and college level, that provides for an early intervention in their lives to show them that math and science can be fun. I truly enjoy mentoring students but mentoring is very important for the Army because it provides the Army with a method to revitalize the workforce with outstanding math and science students," said Brantley.
As an Electrical Engineer she supports several ground-breaking, advanced technology-based programs to enhance the capabilities of missile health monitoring and missile guidance systems. She supervises and provides substantial contributions to the development and integration of advanced electronics and sensors for ultra-miniature packaging for missiles and munitions.
"Brantley serves as Lead Engineer for the electronics design of the first major nanotechnology-based project at AMRDEC - Inertial Sensor for Target Discrimination (ISTAR). She has investigated a novel concept for fabricating grating-based dynamic strain sensors directly on a rubber thin-film. This concept will significantly reduce the cost of strain sensors," said McCorkle.
The significance of Brantley's research is the advancement of this technology will eliminate the need to destructively evaluate the lifespan of rocket motors, aid in the prediction of propellant degradation, and reduce the weight and cost of weaponry diagnostics.
"As a civilian working for the Department of the Army I'm honored to serve our Warfighter. On a day-to-day basis, here at AMRDEC, we develop advanced technology that could benefit not only our Soldiers that are in the wars right now but maybe their children, my children, maybe the students that we mentor here at AMRDEC and being able to develop systems and advanced technology capable of benefitting a broad range of people is just amazing," said Brantley.
"She is an excellent engineer with outstanding technical skills. Her influence on AMRDEC will be realized many years into the future by her professional accomplishments and in the accomplishments of the young engineers she has mentored," Berry said.