ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (April 11, 2019) -- The U.S. Army's Combat Capabilities Development Command, or CCDC, is investing in the Science and Technology workforce of tomorrow through a new partnership with Harford Community College, or HCC, Maryland.
The pilot, which was developed by CCDC's Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, or C5ISR, Center, pairs scientists and engineers with HCC students in order to encourage young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
The nation relies on individuals with strong STEM competencies to support the Soldier of today and develop technologies for the Soldier of tomorrow.
CCDC's C5ISR Center is the Army's applied research and advanced technology development center for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance - or C5ISR - capabilities. As the Army's primary integrator of C5ISR technologies and systems, the center develops and matures capabilities that support all six Army Modernization priorities, enabling information dominance and tactical overmatch for the joint warfighter.
The work of the C5ISR Center is key to national defense strategies in all domains, from land combat to cyber and electromagnetic warfare.
To ensure a STEM-competent future workforce, the C5ISR Center organizes and participates in events throughout the year designed to encourage interest in STEM-related careers, including internships for high school and college students to learn more about careers in C5ISR Center offices and laboratories.
The mentorship is another avenue for students to explore a potential career in STEM.
The program began in February with a Meet and Greet between the mentors and students. Six pairs of mentors and mentees are taking part in the initial pilot program, which runs from February 2019 through May 2020. Future programs will be based on the academic calendar year.
"We are conducting this pilot group for one-and-a-half years and then back on schedule with the academic year," explained C5ISR Center Career Development Specialist Rhonda Hillebrand. "Some of the original pilot students will be graduating from HCC this semester, but they will continue on with their mentor at the university they transfer to."
According to Karla Wynn, student development specialist at HCC, the program targets an often under-served demographic.
"There are programs for high school seniors and those nearing completion of the bachelors' degree, but there are very few mentoring and/or internship opportunities for students pursuing associates' degrees," Wynn noted.
Students applying for the program listed their majors and areas of interest. In turn, the C5ISR Center matched its volunteers with the students based on their areas of expertise.
Contact between mentors and mentees is primarily through the internet. Mentors share information and advice with their mentees on topics ranging from in-depth technical knowledge to applying for a career with the federal government.
"It's a challenge to get hired into the federal government. Any opportunity that students to get their foot in the door is critical," said Wynn, who noted that the program is a win-win for the students and the C5ISR Center.
The mentorship program also serves as a pipeline to recruit the best and brightest young STEM professionals to the C5ISR Center.
"We'll be able to mentor the students into their chosen career field, which will create opportunities for summer internships and future employment," said Vic Carrozzo, C5ISR Center Lead Human Capital and Workforce Development Specialist.
"We'll get to know them, and they'll learn about us. This is a positive step forward in our community to attract bright, inspired students. This is a perfect fit for junior colleges," he said.
The mentorship program allows students to have access to professionals currently working in their field of study. HCC student Courtney O'Conner is paired with International Technology Transfer Specialist Kimberly Foor.
"After only four days, she had me on LinkedIn; she has shared resources with me, and we've talked several times on the phone," O'Connor said.
While she is not sure of her next steps -- further college or career - O'Connor is planning to stay in touch with Foor after the 18-month pilot concludes.
"I hope she will continue to be my mentor even after I find my first job," she noted.
The C5ISR Center is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. 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.