By Joanna Bradley, CCDC Aviation & Missile Center Public AffairsApril 18, 2019
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Jena Salvetti, a U.S. Army human factors engineer has always had an interest in creating art.
"From a young age, I could be found drawing, painting and sculpting," Salvetti said. "Anything crafty or artistic was my activity of choice when I had free time."
As a human factors engineer with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center's Systems Simulation, Software and Integration Directorate, she uses human behavior and psychology to design helicopter cockpits.
Salvetti, who also creates military- and superhero-inspired art, gleans much of her inspiration from her love of science fiction movies and comic books.
"I've been inspired a lot by the women of 'Star Wars' and the comic book hero worlds," said Salvetti. "We're so lucky to have so many films being released that are immediate sources of inspiration." She also attributes her children as a source of creativity, as they often approach her with ideas of their own.
Salvetti said she begins creating each piece of art by sketching the idea on paper with pencil. "Once I'm happy with the sketch, I go over the pencil to make clean lines with a black drawing pen," she explained. The final step is to scan the illustration into her computer, where she then adds color applications and backgrounds.
While most of her illustrations are original ideas, Salvetti accepts -- and thoroughly enjoys doing -- commissioned work. "I have had many customers come to me with incredible ideas for mashups of all kinds of sci-fi worlds, which has been some of the most fun work I have done," said Salvetti.
Originally from Delaware, Salvetti landed in Huntsville for work opportunities in Army aviation. She started her art business in September 2014 and began vending at local arts and crafts shows.
Salvetti credits meeting a woman, who happened to be a Black Hawk aviator, at one of the shows with motivating her to create a series of illustrations featuring Soldiers combined with superheroes. "These have been some of my most fulfilling images," said Salvetti. "I was able to connect with Soldiers all over the country, and even [internationally], who now have my art hanging on their walls."
An employee with CCDC AvMC for the past five years, Salvetti provides design input to devices that Army aviation crews will use daily to improve mission success. "We do this through crew station working groups involving Army aviation crew members to evaluate every aspect of prototype designs in helicopter engineering analysis cockpits," Salvetti said, explaining further that she has been working on UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters during her time at CCDC AvMC.
"Jena's [level of effort here] has a huge impact to the end user," said Nick Nickles, a project lead with CCDC AvMC's S3I. "Her diligence and attention to detail is amazing as a human factors engineer. She has the knack for this type of work, and it is because of her passion for taking care of the aviator and Soldier."
With a bachelor's degree in human factors psychology and a master's in aeronautical science, emphasis human factors, from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Salvetti said that she is "incredibly lucky to be able to apply what we know about human behavior and psychology to the design of helicopter cockpits."
Salvetti described creating art as meditative. "Art has really been an outlet for me that puts me in my own headspace for sometimes hours at a time."
"I have talked to so many aspiring artists," said Salvetti. "Some who want to commit to art as a career and others who are wanting a career in engineering and science, but have this drive to be creative as well. It's important to have many facets to your life."
The CCDC Aviation & Missile Center, formerly known as the Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, which conducts responsive research, development and life cycle engineering to deliver the aviation and missile capabilities the Army depends on to ensure victory on the battlefield today and tomorrow. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our Nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.